Sleep issues. HELP!

OK, this is for my DH. It’s not me, but we are not finding help locally that is working… and it’s getting outta control and serious. Health care system is in disarray locally.

DH is having problems sleeping. As a result, blood pressure spikes. Doctor perscribes anxiety pills. DH is reluctant to take drugs, but has started taking some. He’s upset, morose about the blood pressure readings… although at some times of the day he clocks in at 120/80 or lower. Other times, higher… 150/90. Which makes him panic, and worsens the situation. Then he can’t sleep, and if he can sleep at all, wakes up constantly, heart pounding and short of breath… puffing. Also, leg twitching while trying to sleep. He’s 62, VERY health conscious, tall and slim, always VERY fit, no smoking, no drinking, never overweight. Cross country skier, mountain bike rider, hiker, etc. Very healthy diet always, oatmeal every day, fruit, salads, lots of homegrown veggies in diet.

Wow, sounds like he’s doing everything right!

I’ve had restless leg syndrome. NOT fun. It went away on its own after a while.

As for sleeping aids, I’ve had good luck with plant-based + Melatonin in the past. A friend of mine who’s in her 60ies swears by CBD + melatonin. I haven’t tried it only because it’s so expensive! But she says it’s great.

Sometimes sleep issues can become a vicious circle. Anxiety drugs like Xanax are addictive and don’t solve anything…they only mask symptoms.
First…check sleep hygiene make sure that bedtime is consistent…the same basic time every night, within no more than half an hours variance.
Exercise should be done several hours prior to retiring for the night…if done too close to bedtime it will “wake up” your body.
Dim the lights in your living room if you watch TV before bedtime. Do not have a TV in the bedroom.
Get off computers. Phones etc. Several hours before bedtime.
Hot cocoa, made with real milk has tryptophan and helps you feel sleepy. Camomile tea can do this too…Celestial Seasonings " Sleepy Time" is good.
Sometimes it can help to read something dry and dull before bed. It is also important to try not to take worrie to bed with you and adopt Scarlet O’Hara’s attitude "I’ll think about it tomorrow. "
Make sure the bedroom is cool …
Avoid caffeine; I can’t remember the half life exactly but it’s like 10 or 12 hours. Unless your husband has been diagnosed with ADHD, then stimulants will make him sleepy.
Developing a nighttime routine and sticking to it is half the battle. Best of luck!
Oh yes…check to see if he snores…he may have sleep apnea and need a C-Pap


Thanks for input so far. The CBD… he’s used this before, and I think it helped with the sleeping, but hasn’t been using it recently, so I think it’s a great idea to go back to that. It’s not expensive here, readily available- so thanks for that reminder. Combining with melatonin is also something to try. His main fear is the blood pressure spikes, but one does not know which causes which. I’m thinking that the blood pressure spikes are due to the lack of sleep causing worry, tension, with exhaustion. He is scared that his health is failing, and he’s gonna have a heart attack, which doesn’t lead to the relaxation required to sleep. We agree about the drug being not a solution, a bandaid only. He;s just told me that he has quit taking the drug- this means that the doctor he saw last week will now refuse to treat him, if he’s not doing as she said (she told him that). He’s terrified he’s gonna have a heart attack etc, which raises his general feeling of anxiety. So he is anxious, for sure… he thinks his health is deteriorating, and worrying about that creates anxiety (IMO), which damages the ability to sleep, creating a vicious circle.
Has anyone ever been to one of those “sleep center” places, where they monitor you while you sleep etc? IDK what goes on there, but if a person is having problems with sleep that they can’t seem to rectify themselves, it seems appropriate to try something like this. The recent doctor’s visit “poo pooed” this option as nothing but a lot of nonsense, and just perscribed the drugs. The one “sleep center” place we have found requires a doctor’s referral. He SHOULD NOT have “high blood pressure”. He’s healthy, a “health NUT” actually (far more than I am). But he’s super sensitive, an over thinker, a worrier. He’d be a cribber for sure if he was equine.

He’s careful with the caffeine, uses filtered coffee to remove oil (?) due to digestive issues/problems/pain previously. Doctors couldn’t figure that one out either, scoping etc, no diagnosis, nothing wrong, other than unbearable gut pain. No ulcers. With the new coffee filtering system he learned about while googling, all fixed now, no problems. But he’s really aware of issues with caffeine. I just drink tea, no issues, no problems LOL.

Has he had a sleep study done?


Like a sleep study? I just got a referral for one due to excessive fatigue (complete opposite of your husband), but now they want me to go to a sleep specialist for. Im quite honestly tired (har har) of running around to 25 different specialists and am prob going to put it off until I talk with my rheumatologist. My doctor was thinking I could have a chance at a non obstructive sleep apnea, but it’s so rare and with having Ehlers Danlos, the fatigue just seems to go with the territory. Not much medication can do either since I have to stay away from caffeine and any kind of uppers due to heart complications :crazy_face:

Curious to hear others experiences though.

:rofl: I hope your husband is able get some relief, sounds like he’s doing everything lifestyle people would recommend.

EDIT - WAIT! how is his salt intake? My dad and I both are Whole Foods plant based eaters and he was recently having BP issues. Very similar lifestyle/activity to your husband from the sounds of it too. He really dialed back on anything that contains salt (which wasn’t a whole lot for him), but it made a big difference.

I’ve had two sleep studies done, prescribed by a doctor. I had symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, and yep, I have it. It can drive your blood pressure up, but the episodes that drive it occur when you are asleep. I’ve used a CPAP since 2002, and it works well for me.

Does he snore, or gasp while asleep? These are the usual signs of sleep apnea. What you described sounded more like anxiety, but I’m certainly not a doctor.

Best of luck on getting it resolved.


No. He started with the medical system…the nearby GP doctor who went directly to drugs, and dismissed mental health issues or treatment as useless. Since I posted this, he has called the sleep clinic, and has spoken to someone there, but they were going to call the GP doctor he has already seen, to get a referral for him??? Idk. But no one has called him back yet from the sleep center, because the doctor’s office does not pick up the phone, and does not take messages. I kid you not… This is the state of our local medical system, which we are DAM lucky to even have this much service. This doctor will dump him as a patient when she finds out that he failed to take the drugs she prescribed anyway, but she doesn’t know this yet. But told him that in advance.

Thanks for your reply. Personally, I’m leaning toward sleep apnea, but hey man, I’m just guessing. Is it tough to sleep wearing that mask? Or do ya just get used to it eventually?

Get blood work done to look at iron (not just RBCs as a function of iron, but ferritin), B12, and Vit D levels. ALL those play roles in sleep, and B12 plays a role in RLS. I’ve gone through alllll of this

My MIL had an issue with RLS, and in her case, it was that she wasn’t eating ENOUGH salt. I see a lot of “health nuts” who get so afraid of the risks of too much salt that they don’t eat enough.

He may have some level of anxiety. How much of what kind of protein does he eat? What’s in his salads? A lot of people eat “diet food” and think they’re eating healthy, but they aren’t. What kinds of fats does he eat?

A lot of people are deficient in magnesium.

He may need to see a psychiatrist to try to get to the root of his anxiety. There’s a whooooole lot to be said about personal development in the area of learning to take actions to control the things we can, and let go of the things we can’t, which does enormous things for anxiety.

He needs to see a sleep specialist too. The first thing is an in-home "sleep study’ where they’re basically just checking on apnea. If warranted, then it moves to an sleep center overnight stay. This recent Dr sounds like a good one to run away from if they are poo-pooing any sleep study and going right to drugs :angry:

Genetics also plays a role here. HBP can be an issue no matter the best lifestyle in the world.

It’s also work removing all caffeine for a few weeks just to see what happens. Or, if he must, use green tea, which contains l-theanine which negates a lot of the jittery issues with caffeine. That can be useful in weaning off , but that’s a simple (not always easy!) thing to start with.

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Oh, he’s dead set against ever using the salt shaker EVER, on anything, long before this started. There’s some of course, when we eat something manifactured and packaged commercially… Unavoidable. But no, he NEVER adds salt to anything, and actively avoids it as much as possible. He’s a bonafide health nut, far more than I am.

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The blood got taken yesterday. He goes in to see this doc on Friday, at which point she will find out that he took himself off the anxiety drugs she prescribed, and will dump him as a patient. Apparently. I told him to GET the blood results paper copy, so at least we will have that. We would probably love to run away from this doc, but she is truly the ONLY option in this area. If not her, then it would be a walk in situation, 1 1/2 hrs away, with hours to wait. Even Emergency at the horsepittle has 5 to 7 hr wait. All we do have locally, ten minutes away from our house, in our tiny little backwoods town with 500 residents, is a nurse’s station, with what appears to be a ‘really good nurse’, who was appalled about the anxiety drugs that had been prescribed by the doc. He quit taking it after her response.

His anxiety…is deep rooted, and complex, and long term. From his childhood. Has never had much luck with relieving much of it. Has caused problems over the 30 years we have been together. After a particularly bad situation, he had several months of work about it, resulting in him still being alive today. Imagine the worst, and you won’t be far wrong. There are issues, that are not his fault, yet weigh heavy on him still. Very intense personality, very self critical, very intelligent, and self taught. Doesn’t fit in well with others, but usually well liked by others, yet can’t connect enough to form real friendships. It’s an odd situation.
Thanks JB. I always think that you have good input.


Has he had an EKG lately? My husband’s sleep issues became much worse when he was in A-Fib. Might be worth checking out if you can get a provider who’ll listen.

This is actually just as unhealthy as eating too much salt. Our bodies have a pretty narrow range for what’s considered normal sodium levels, and getting too far from average in either direction creates all kinds of problems. I’ve been hospitalized for dangerously low sodium levels before and it definitely impacted my sleep in the weeks leading up to the crisis and the months following, so it’s entirely possible that in your husband’s attempts to be super healthy he’s actually been depriving his body of things it needs to function.

Aside from that, sleep disruptions can be indicators of a whole host of other problems so it’s definitely worth getting a full physical and comprehensive bloodwork done. Depending on what you have access to in your area it’d probably be worth seeing an endocrinologist in addition to a sleep specialist. A lot of GPs are unfamiliar with anything beyond the most basic endocrine problems and there are a lot of weird ones out there that could cause sleep issues.


Assume not much available in our area. Interesting about the sodium, someone other than me is going to have to tell him this, someone with some letters after their name. The sleep center people have made a very good impression on me this afternoon, on the phone. He sees the GP on Friday, and gets blood results. The sleep center has prepped us for what they need from the GP. Will see how it goes. Thanks for the input on sodium… I’m sure he gets some, we do eat some prepared foods, so there’s some sodium for sure in there. I have mentioned this to him, chloride ions also are necessary for life… salt is necessary, for sure. He doesn’t always believe me though.


I too had a home sleep study and that indicated I needed a hospital, more detailed study.

Those are simple, non-invasive studies, you just sleep with some wires attached at home you put on yourself, then the respiratory therapist reads the results, then your doctor.

You go to the hospital one evening and are out of there next morning early.
In the hospital they will put more wires on you to measure your eye and leg movements as you sleep in different stages of sleep, plus you try different masks.

Sleep apnea is your throat closes when you relax those tissues as you sleep and closes our airway, snore or just can’t breathe, but not quite wake up to know about it, then you start breathing again while you keep sleeping.
That happens many times a night, for some 100+ times.
I was averaging quitting breathing 84 times a night

The little CPAP machine is half the size of a shoebox, fits on a night table fine and pushes room air under a bit of pressure thru a flexible hose into a mask to help you breathe, keeping your airways open.
There are several kinds of masks, some just fit in the nose, if you are a mouth breather, full face masks cover your nose and mouth, that is what I use.
Those are the same little machines they use in the hospital when someone needs oxygen, they then pipe oxygen thru them.

Sleep apnea will raise your blood pressure and so the risk of heart trouble and strokes or heart attacks by a high percent, is worth getting checked if that is any kind of possibility.
As people get older they may start having sleep apnea, but many start when young also.
My doctor himself has to use one of those, he too has sleep apnea.

I would check with a good sleep clinic, our hospital runs one, check with yours, before I would go to medication just to see what sticks.
Those tests won’t hurt any, are just inconvenient.


Definitely worth the consideration and it’s an easy enough thing to try for a week to see if it helps him.

I’m on the other side of the spectrum than my dad, I need more sodium than the average person. It doesn’t manifest with sleep issues but my BP and heart rate get noticeably irregular if I don’t have enough.

Get him a salt lick! Maybe it will help the cribbing :joy:


My husband had a sleep study (home). Definitely had sleep apnea and the CPAP machine has made a huge difference. Masks are now more comfortable and they don’t bother him.

In terms of anxiety about falling a sleep, has he tried a meditation tape aimed at getting you to fall asleep? I used them for awhile and I always fell asleep before they ended.


it took some trial and error to find the right mask, but once I did, it’s been smooth sailing all these years. I sleep great.

The only time I did any testing at home was when I was arguing with my rheumatologist whether some issues I was having was sleep deprivation or something else. He had me spend a night with an oximeter, which showed 99% oxygen sat. So it was general RA and fibromyalgia that was exhausting me.

The sleep studies are no big deal. It’s a little weird going to sleep with wires on you, but it sure tells the story.



I know it sounds weird but there is an app called sleep cycle that does guided meditations you use before bedtime. I get the best sleep of my life, plus no more anxiety meds.

If he doesn’t eat salt I bet his electrolyte levels are all out of whack.