Site news

TMS /MBS and Sleep Disturbance

TMS /MBS and Sleep Disturbance

by Brian Harrington -
Number of replies: 2

Dear Dr. Schubiner, 

First, I want to sincerely thank you for your incredible dedication and compassion to people, most of whom you've never met. This is remarkable, and so rare in today's medical maelstrom. May I say that your love and kindness to people reminds me of Christ, who did nothing for personal gain, only to help and heal others. 

Second, I wrote a few years' back and you  provided helpful guidance around the lack of utility of PET-scans as performed by the Amen Clinic (I spent a lot of money there with no real results, only increase of fear around "possible" diagnoses). I have struggled with sleep disturbances for many years. Where it is still confusing to me is that, I have had 4 hospital sleep studies done, all showing some form of apnea (but not severe), was told that a sleep endoscopy showed blockage of the upper airway, and then had both a major sinus surgery and - after that - went so far as to obtain a tracheostomy as the surgeon suggested that a complete bypass of the upper airway would solve the problem. 

Unfortunately, it hasn't. Neither has CPAP, nor a custom-fitted mouthguard, or other gadgets. 

My question would be, at this point, should I assume that this sleep challenge (I can fall asleep, but usually awake 3 hrs later, then have trouble getting back to sleep, then struggle to get to work while feeling filled with anxiety and at times, like a zombie), is a form of TMS/MBS? I experienced several traumatic events back in 2012-2013 and have noticed that while my sleep was a mixed bag before then, it has gotten much worse since about that time. I've heard explanations about dental crowding, airway blockage, recessed chin, football player's neck (though when I lost 30 lbs it did not improve my sleep at all), even done the trach, but this did not "fix" the problem. 

Have you had experience helping people heal from chronically poor sleep that has led to anxiety, weight gain, and overall cognitive and emotional decline? I feel as though the "structural" or "physical" explanations may be delaying my healing. 

I have tried everything, including now, better medication which seems to help somewhat (I take 100mg of Trazadone at night and 300 mg of Wellbutrin during the day, as my doctor is concerned about very low dopamine activity), and am experiencing a lot of frustration around this, as I feel like, when I do sleep well, I am simply a different person. Of course, there are significant stressors in my life, such as a marriage that has basically ended, and my having to go on disability last year for 8 months (I am now back at work and miraculously, am somehow able to be productive in the midst of this). 

Thank you again!

Brian H

In reply to Brian Harrington

Re: TMS /MBS and Sleep Disturbance

by Howard Schubiner -

Yes, I am 100% certain that this kind of sleep problem is MBS; completely.

You can fall asleep so it is clear that you know how to do that; i.e., your brain allows that. (You can't force yourself to fall asleep, you can only FALL asleep, by letting go.) So, there is nothing wrong there.

It's just that you wake up after a few hours. This is clearly due to your brain that is used to waking you up and does it again and again; as predicted; as it can; as a habit. It is nothing more than that. In fact, most people wake up at night, as there are normally periods of heavier and lighter sleep cycles.

When you wake up at night, you get anxious and therefore can't fall back asleep. I would suggest that the waking up should not be a problem and I would just accept that your brain does that for now. 

I would suggest working on falling back asleep when you do wake up. Then you will get enough sleep at night.

In my book, under the frequently asked questions, there are some recommendations for this. Do you have that? Let me know.

Best, Howard

In reply to Howard Schubiner

Re: TMS /MBS and Sleep Disturbance

by brian harrington -

Thank you, Doctor. I have the book.

What is really frustrating about this is that, maybe once a month, I’ll get really good quality sleep and then feel the next day, like a different human being, work, relationships, everything 

Many other days it’s maybe 3 hrs of sleep then up for 15 minutes, another hour of light sleep, then up, and so on, then going to work like a zombie the next day, feeling as if I’m in a total fog

This has been going on for ca 7 hrs and has led to significant weight gain (despite work outs and calorie restriction), anxiety, and depressive symptoms. 

I take Remeron for sleep and thus has helped somewhat, but I have not yet turned the corner on sleep, and it feels as though my health is collapsing.