Treating insomnia with thiamine

Treating Intractable Insomnia and Cerebellar Ataxia With Thiamine

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Twenty years ago, I attempted suicide after years of alcohol and drug abuse. I almost succeeded, but by some miracle I survived. I suffered a cerebellar stroke and as result was left with severe cerebellar damage. The doctors said that I had lost almost 75% of my cerebellum. I couldn’t walk or talk, I could not swallow and was barely functioning, if you could call it that. At some point, I decided I would live and forced myself to improve. I worked the physical therapy and eventually began lifting weights. I wrote about my journey here. Despite my gains in strength and balance though, since the stroke I had suffered from severe and intractable insomnia. Although I was under the care of multiple doctors, none could offer any help beyond increasing this or that medication, none of which worked. Insomnia is common in individuals with cerebellar injury. Then I learned about thiamine.

Persistent Insomnia Treated with Thiamine

Around the time my initial article was published, I began supplementing my diet with thiamine. This vitamin may have been mentioned in passing by some of my physicians, but it was never prescribed or even really emphasized to any great degree. Neither was it ever touted by the medical community during my initial stroke recovery in 2003. I am fairly sure much of the reluctance to use thiamine could be attributed to the pervasive fear of it not benefitting my health.

Being entrenched in the world of mental health and alcoholism for about 25 years (sober 9), I am well aware of Wernicke-Korsakoff’s syndrome. I had heard about massive doses of thiamine being administered to others in medical detoxification facilities. I also have loved ones grappling with Parkinson’s Diseases. I quickly began to see how many of our neurological symptoms were similar, and that thiamine was slyly mentioned to help all of us.

In early 2021, it was strongly suggested that I gradually increase to a large dose of thiamine (not by doctors, mind you, but by others from this website). At the time, I was lucky if I slept 3 hours per night, which of course, exacerbated my ataxia symptoms. I was on so many medications that it raised red flags, but I was never warned about the negative neurological effects. And worse yet, nothing was working.

Once my initial dose of thiamine was entrenched in my system (50 mg of Thiamax), I began sleeping with greater ease. At first, this was approximately an hour, but I discovered that I also slept more soundly and had acquired greater rest during the night. As time progressed, my sleep patterns became increasingly regular.

Better Functioning With Improved Sleep

For several years, I have been making progress in all areas of my life. By August of 2022, thanks to the thiamine, I was off of all prescription medications. I was sleeping through the entire night, soundly. I was also able to complete difficult feats at the gym without falling asleep on a mat in the stretching area (usually resulting in me being taken home, so I didn’t sleep at the gym.) This is one of the reasons that I didn’t train publicly until recently. With my sleep problems, I wasn’t sure if I’d be overcome with an insatiable need to sleep mid-workout.

In addition to the improvements in sleep and the elimination of medication after thiamine came on board, I was able to lift a barbell by myself, while standing. This is no small feat for someone with ataxia. Remember, I was told I would not walk again, or function in any semblance perceived as normal. They said that all my neurological systems had crossed the threshold believed salvageable. In September of 2022, I competed in my first powerlifting meet, where I deadlifted 182 pounds and bench pressed 78 pounds. I am currently deadlifting 225 pounds (January 2023). While I am still ataxic and I still have struggles relative to my injury, I have improved so much since beginning the thiamine.

thiamine for insomnia and cerebellar ataxia
Me lifting 225lbs at the gym.

As I write this, right before the New Year of 2023, I am overcome with the amount of remarkable progress that has been made in my life since August. To deny that would fact would be denial of any amount of truth or reality in existence. I fail to see how anyone can deny the differences in my life since using regular thiamine.

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Photo by Jake Charles on Unsplash.


  1. Arlyn, thank you for posting. What form and amount of thiamine are you currently taking on a daily basis? I wish you continued success in your weightlifting program.

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