ANS Retraining Needed?


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I saw my GP yesterday about getting on gabapentin. The biggest concern I hope to address with this drug is sleep. I have some old trauma from my parents frequently fighting after I went to bed (with me wide awake listening intently), and after some ah-ha moments in self-awareness, it seems that going to bed is a trigger for that trauma. Interestingly, I can lay down for a nap during the day and sleep just fine.

I asked her for 900 mg gabapentin (300 mg 3 times daily), since that's the usual starting dose I read about, but she suggested that I just take 600 mg in the evening so I didn't get groggy during the day.

She also made the observation that my autonomic nervous system (ANS) seemed to be sort of backward: it's supposed to be relaxing me in the evening and night, and keying me up for action in the morning and throughout the day, but it seems like it's doing the opposite. It seems like a reasonable explanation for what I'm experiencing. If I was trying to sleep during the day and stay up during the night, I'd expect to be keyed up at bedtime and groggy when I was awake.

In addition to the 600 mg gabapentin in the evening, she suggested taking a certain magnesium supplement at dinner and at bedtime that is supposed to penetrate the blood-brain barrier (composed of magnesium malate, lysinate, and glycinate). On the other hand, the only magnesium supplement I've read about that is known to cross the BBB is magnesium threonate, so I don't know if that's really what's happening to her other patients who've taken it.
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I've been taking gabapentin "as needed" for some years. For me it's a tricky drug, so I've avoided building up to full doses. I take 300mg every night at bedtime, using additional doses occasionally as a tool to nudge the parasympathetic system. I am prone to assorted neurological symptoms that are pretty clearly tied to overactive sympathetic activity; so it's not too hard to tell when an extra afternoon gaba will help make the evening a little better.

I don't know about that mag supplement, but I do take daily mag citrate -- and hardly an evening goes by that I don't rely on epsom-salt baths.


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Switching to evening doses has made the gabapentin a better than the 3x per day routine. It made me so sleepy! Supplementing with easily-absorbed magnesium has been a good move for me, too. It's definitely easier to relax.


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I made some breakthroughs on that old trauma while doing some writing for emotional integration. I dug up two old subconscious beliefs connected to that situation: first, a fear that my parents' arguing was going to escalate into physical violence; and second, a fear that one of my parents was going to leave us because of the contention.

It's so odd how such simple fears can have such profound effects upon us when we've repressed them, but I don't seem to be getting such a SNS reaction from lying down to sleep at night now. Simply becoming aware of those beliefs and allowing myself to feel the feelings associated with them has provided me with some relief.

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