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Messages - keating

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keating here again.

I take Ambien every night, and have been for about 18 months. It's not generally intended to be taken for that long, but I have fibromyalgia and lifelong insomnia and don't get restorative sleep. I have never slept well without something that helps me sleep. I have a white noise machine but am still a light enough sleeper that I can wake up in spite of meds. It's the worst!

The first night I took Ambien, I woke up feeling better than I ever have. It was amazing. However, if I take a full 5-mg. Ambien and don't go right to bed or sleep a full 8 hours, I will be groggy. But I'll sleep so deeply I won't remember any dreams at all (I always remember dreams). Because I'm a light sleeper and am often in pain it's extremely unlikely I'd sleep the 8 hours. So I take half an Ambien with one valerian, which is a natural herb, and the two together usually do the trick unless I have a lot on my mind, in which case I take two valerian with the Ambien. But with 2.5 mg of Ambien I will still have a very active mind all night.

The difference between Ambien and other sleeping pills like Sonata (which I've also tried) is that Ambien both helps you fall asleep and stay asleep, whereas Sonata only helps you fall asleep. With a 5 mg. Sonata I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep, but with the 10 mg I was groggy. The 10 mg Sonata also gave me some wacky hallucinations, ghosts floating above my bed and stuff! I've never gotten ill on either pill, though.

Ambien is great if you do have short-term insomnia or are really stressed, but it doesn't work for everyone. If you're like me and a chronic insomniac, then it becomes essential. My next step is a TempurPedic bed - getting one this summer. :-)

Take melatonin at 11 pm, or whatever your normal bedtime would be, for a few nights. It will reset your body clock. Flight attendants and pilots do this all the time, because they have to adjust to new time zones. I did it after returning from Paris a few years ago, because I was stuck on Paris time and would wake up every morning at 4 am. Worked like a charm.

PR's class comes with real LSATs as well as their own materials, so if you have already registered and paid for the class, ask them to send you the materials early. Although since they use the real LSATs in their assignments I wouldn't do too much of that before the class. See if you can get the class syllabus so you can see how it's all assigned so you don't do that stuff now.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Weekend Test Prep Course Worth Anything?
« on: April 21, 2004, 01:51:01 PM »
Well, what prep have you already done? In general the weekend prep courses aren't a great idea because they throw a whole lot of stuff at you at once, and you really don't have a lot of time to sort out each strategy and apply it before the next one is thrown at you. Then you have to practice on your own, and when you get stumped, you have to try to remember what they taught or try to get on the phone with someone for help (assuming they offer post-class support).

To do well on the LSAT takes steady, progressive prep over a period of time. At least a few months. That's why most prep courses last for about 10-12 weeks. As you go through the class, you do the homework, apply the strategies, and get used to each question type - and get help on working out the kinks before you get too far on the next one.

So if you're thinking about doing a prep course, do a full course. I would highly, highly recommend PR's course - they have added workshops to the course now, so you can have an in-class study session with an instructor on hand to help you navigate, which is awesome. Their own materials are excellent, and of course they also use real LSATs (which come with the course so you don't have to buy them separately). Everyone I know who has taken the course was very happy with the results.

Hope this helps...

If you're having trouble staying motivated, take a prep class or get a tutor. You'll get enough homework that you have to do it to stay on top of it all. With steady practice it will click. Maybe gradually, maybe a big lightbulb will go off, but if it doesn't on your own, then definitely do a PR class or something.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Anxiety~
« on: April 12, 2004, 01:30:33 PM »
I didn't say they weren't safe, but at least my doctors have been responsible enough not to just give it to me because I wanted it! The dosage is the important thing that they have to control. When I had an erratic heartbeat, I was on a higher dose, but for anxiety, I was on just 20 mg a day. I don't think most people are capable of figuring out their dosage on their own, and for a drug that affects the heartrate, it's not really a good idea for the general population to experiment with that.

Hadn't heard they were considering making them OTC drugs. Not sure that's a good idea. I wouldn't use Hollywood types as a positive example, LOL. They'll take anything!!

The blocking of adrenaline was definitely a huge help for me. I thought my main problem was that I just produced too much of it, but in reality I don't produce enough seratonin, and had the hypoglycemia as another major factor. I'd actually be sorta glad if beta blockers were OTC, because on occasion my heartbeat goes wacky regardless of my diet, and it would be nice to calm it down along with the occasional anxiety. It's one of the best drugs I ever took. But I think it could be dangerous for people to just experiment with dosages without a doctor's input.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Anxiety~
« on: April 11, 2004, 12:21:32 AM »
Beta blockers are a prescription drug and doctors don't prescribe it lightly. They're most often prescribed for heart conditions and are particularly good for regulating erratic heartbeats and slowing down the heart. If you have low blood pressure you can't take them, though. The beauty is, they're extremely cheap.

Using medication for anxiety should definitely not be a first resort. The typical anxiety drugs like Paxil dull all of your senses. I tried Paxil when I went through a really bad time, and I was mentally lethargic and just plodded through my day without being able to process anything beyond surface stuff. I would rather be anxious than out of it!

A combo of the valerian and reducing sugar will definitely make a difference! People have suggested yoga to me but I am not the type!

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Anxiety~
« on: April 09, 2004, 10:34:05 AM »
Anxiety can definitely play a huge factor. I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder a few years ago, and I have conquered it for the most part (severe stresses can get me going, but I am much less a worrier than I used to be). Here is what I recommend:

1. See a doctor or therapist. Seriously. I actually went through testing because I had several symptoms that could have been either anxiety or ADHD. I scored off the charts for ADHD, but those symptoms were largely caused by anxiety (especially the inability to concentrate). They put me on a beta blocker and it helped amazingly. It also helped control my pulse, which would get erratic from stress, caffeine, etc.

2. Go for herbal supplements. I had previously been taking valerian, a natual herb, to help me sleep because my brain would be so active at night. Then I noticed it's also useful for daytime anxiety. It does not cause drowsiness at all; it just quiets the brain's nervous energy so you can focus better and relax a bit. You can get it as a tincture that you drop on your tongue, or a capsule, which is what I use. It's a stinky herb, so I get mine from a company called To Your Health because theirs is virtually odorless compared to the ones I've found locally (

3. Change your diet. I stopped taking the beta blocker after a while (my hair was thinning and they can affect that, so I decided to stop taking it), but my rapid heartbeat and general edginess returned. Then I learned I was hypoglycemic, and I stopped eating sugar and starchy carbs, and not only did my heartbeat stabilize and calm down (I now have a lower resting heartrate), but virtually ALL of my anxiety symptoms disappeared!!! I was stunned. Even asthma symptoms disappeared. When my heartbeat was rapid, it made me feel anxious. I will on rare occasions eat refined sugar, but I limit myself as much as possible (you do get used to it after a while and a lot of products are made with Splenda, a great sweetener). I wouldn't do any drastic changes to your diet without talking to a doctor, but cutting sugar out of my diet has completely changed my life and my health. I don't take any medications for anxiety at all, and only rarely have an anxious episode when something really heinous happens and the stress was already building.

I hope this helps!!

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Studying for the Oct LSAT now, too early?
« on: March 31, 2004, 09:45:10 PM »
Dude, PR and Kaplan are definitely NOT the same course! Flip through their books and you'll see that their approaches are different, for starters.

The two biggest differences between the actual courses are class size (PR has a max of 9, Kaplan allows 20+) and instructor training (PR's is more rigorous) and professionalism. They are night-and-day different. I would do PR over Kaplan any day.

Testmasters and Powerscore are very similar to each other because TM's co-founder jumped ship when they had a falling out and he created Powerscore. Testmasters has been known to have 50-60 students in class, which could be problematic if you really need the instructor's help.

Studying for the LSAT / Re: Studying for the Oct LSAT now, too early?
« on: March 31, 2004, 04:18:23 PM »
TNPIG, did you look at Princeton Review classes? See if they have space. Their courses are really good and they have great instructors. I would definitely take them over Kaplan, and their classes are a lot smaller than Testmasters.

Althought it's probably a bit early to start studying for the October LSAT if you end up having to wait. I'd get a little familiar with it with self-prep but wouldn't start studying intently until you're within 4 months of the test date.

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