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Tips to help sleep -- so many of us have that awful withdrawal insomnia

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eatgarden   
eatgarden

From our friend Gianna Kali's blog Beyond Meds https://bipolarblast.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/recipe-for-a-good-nights-sleep/

 

Recipe for a good nights sleep

 

5 cups Epsom Salts

 

1 cup Baking Soda

 

Poor both ingredients into a large tub and fill with water as warm as you can tolerate comfortably.

 

Soak 10 to 20 minutes.

 

Go to bed and pass out. Sleep delightfully deeply for 7 to 9 hours.

 

No kidding. This works for me like nothing else has. Epsom salt baths are widely talked about in withdrawal groups and circles as well as alternative medicine sites. The thing is no one ever really says how much to use. This is a whole lot of Epsom salts.

 

We found sources of bulk salts and the baking soda both. It can be pretty darn cheap.

 

This knocks me out. Now it may be because I’ve never tolerated much magnesium supplementation and most of us withdrawing from psych drugs need mag really bad. Not everyone’s gut can handle supplementation with magnesium though.

 

When magnesium is taken in through the skin it completely bypasses the gut and so there is no gastro discomfort.

 

....

So give this a shot. I’m utterly shocked at the difference it’s made.

 

It also gets rid of my body pain. I have really bad pain that seems to be similar to those who are diagnosed with fibromyalgia. And in point of fact this bath is also recommended in fibro circles. I have no idea what my pain is caused by but I’m assuming it’s simply the withdrawals and hope it will eventually pass.

 

The bath makes the pain remit long enough for me to fall asleep.

....

 

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eatgarden   
eatgarden

I have not tried your recipe for the bath but it sounds very good. What I do that works well for me is a Yoga exercise: I lay down on the floor with a pillow for my head and raise my legs up along the wall; I do get as close to the wall as I possibly can and stay that way for 15 minutes. I don't understand why it works, it just does and I recommend it! :)

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Thanks, eatgarden. That yoga exercise was recommended to me, too.

 

When you can, please introduce yourself in the Introductions section. Thanks for joining us.

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alexjuice   
alexjuice

I don't think I've talked much about the insomnia I experienced when I first discontinued (too rapidly) Effexor and Risperdal. I know insomnia is a very common and disruptive side effect but we all just use the word and I'd like to explain what happened to me.

 

I didn't suffer chronic sleep disturbance with two or three hours of sleep or less. I didn't wake frequently during the night. Instead I simply could not fall asleep. Has anyone else experienced insomnia in this way?

 

After waking up I'd give my best effort at a functional day. At day's end, I'd be exhausted and go to bed. I'd lie there for hours and hours. Once the sun came up, I'd get out of bed, very tired, resigned that sleep wasn't happening. Due to exhaustion, I'd be nonfunctioning. Periodically during the day, I'd get back into bed but I could not fall asleep.

 

Sometimes I'd be awake for a 2+ days. Maybe I'd wake up Monday at 11am and not fall back to sleep until Wednesday at 11pm, something like this. But then, after falling asleep, I'd sleep solidly, 12-20 hours. Then I'd wake up -- at some ridiculously random time -- and the cycle would start again.

 

From what I've pieced together this type of unwelcome, extended awakeness followed by sound, extended sleep is not how withdrawal insomnia typically manifests. At my worst weeks, this cycle would run such that I'd get an average of 8 hrs a night each week, except I'd only get any sleep at all on 2 - 3 nights.

 

Combined with severe anxiety, this form of insomnia disturbed my life so profoundly that I decided to restart on klonopin.

 

Finally, I remember how impaired my thinking and emotional state would become during the latter hours of sleeplessness. I made more decisions. Not reckless decisions, but desperate decisions or confused decisions because it is very difficult to think clearly in a severely sleep deprived state. Or be emotionally coherent. I bet this feeling of sleepless desperation is consistent in all sleep disorders.

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dalsaan   
dalsaan

Alex, I had that when I went cold turkey and then when I tapered too quick a number of years ago. I couldn't drive, work or think. My eyes went all jitteryoving backwards and forwards really quickly after days of not sleeping

 

I said to the doc it's like a switch is stuck on and no matter how exhausted I am I can't sleep

 

Was truly awful and very clear why sleep deprivation is a technique of torture

 

Dalsaan

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compsports   
compsports

I don't think I've talked much about the insomnia I experienced when I first discontinued (too rapidly) Effexor and Risperdal. I know insomnia is a very common and disruptive side effect but we all just use the word and I'd like to explain what happened to me.

 

I didn't suffer chronic sleep disturbance with two or three hours of sleep or less. I didn't wake frequently during the night. Instead I simply could not fall asleep. Has anyone else experienced insomnia in this way?

 

After waking up I'd give my best effort at a functional day. At day's end, I'd be exhausted and go to bed. I'd lie there for hours and hours. Once the sun came up, I'd get out of bed, very tired, resigned that sleep wasn't happening. Due to exhaustion, I'd be nonfunctioning. Periodically during the day, I'd get back into bed but I could not fall asleep.

 

Sometimes I'd be awake for a 2+ days. Maybe I'd wake up Monday at 11am and not fall back to sleep until Wednesday at 11pm, something like this. But then, after falling asleep, I'd sleep solidly, 12-20 hours. Then I'd wake up -- at some ridiculously random time -- and the cycle would start again.

 

From what I've pieced together this type of unwelcome, extended awakeness followed by sound, extended sleep is not how withdrawal insomnia typically manifests. At my worst weeks, this cycle would run such that I'd get an average of 8 hrs a night each week, except I'd only get any sleep at all on 2 - 3 nights.

 

Combined with severe anxiety, this form of insomnia disturbed my life so profoundly that I decided to restart on klonopin.

 

Finally, I remember how impaired my thinking and emotional state would become during the latter hours of sleeplessness. I made more decisions. Not reckless decisions, but desperate decisions or confused decisions because it is very difficult to think clearly in a severely sleep deprived state. Or be emotionally coherent. I bet this feeling of sleepless desperation is consistent in all sleep disorders.

 

Alex,

 

I forgot, is this still an issue or not? I am so sorry you experienced this. I can't imagine trying to lie down and get zero sleep.

 

Yup, I feel like my thinking is impaired big time even when I am aware that it is. It is a horrible way to live.

 

And if I can't resolve it after I optimize my pap therapy and have tried OTC remedies, I will look to a regular med for sleep, whatever that may be. At that point, the health risks of not sleep outweigh whatever the risks are in taking meds.

 

I definitely understand why you resorted to taking Klonopin.

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Outshined   
Outshined

I didn't suffer chronic sleep disturbance with two or three hours of sleep or less. I didn't wake frequently during the night. Instead I simply could not fall asleep. Has anyone else experienced insomnia in this way?

Me. I go into bed, stay there for a while, then I fall asleep. After that, I sleep roughly 4-5 hours (quite deeply); then, after I have to go to the bathroom, I can't fall asleep for hours. Then I manage to fall asleep again but it's very intermittent.

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Meimeiquest   
Meimeiquest

Alex, Wjen I was over-activated on Cymbalta, cruising towards mania, I did the no sleep thing. But I felt relaxed, sliding off to sleep when I could feel my brain suddenly bounce from almost asleep to wide awake, then would gradually slide down over the next few hours and repeat over and over. Somewhere on SA is an explanation....it's hyper-alerting of some sort. A place in your brain with a lot of control believes you're not safe enough to go to sleep, so it faithfully wakes you up as needed. Thanks brain! But I never did the long rebound sleep. Definitely saving the benzo for last!

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strawberry17   
strawberry17

Yes exactly what you're describing happened to me about 10 years ago when I went cold turkey (or the alternate day thing) of getting off Zoloft. I had two young boys and a husband working a long way from home, and I'm quite horrified when I think of how I was actually driving the boys about in this state, simply because I didn't know what the hell was happening to me and someone had to ferry them about, I should've asked for help. It cleared up when I gave in and reinstated. Nowadays since tapering excruciatingly slowly I don't get the chronic no sleep for nights on end insomnia, just odd nights where I catch up the next night.

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alexjuice   
alexjuice

Very interesting.

 

I still have some sleep issues, pretty well correlated to bdz reduction, but nothing like insomnia as I had it before. I haven't got multiple days without sleep since 2010.

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dalsaan   
dalsaan

I'm somewhat relieved to hear others report this. I don't think my doctor ever believed me. I tried numerous benzos but they would work for a night or two and that was it

 

Interestingly I also had this when I was first put on ADs. It was Effexor I went for 8 weeks getting less than ten hours a week andost nights none. That's why I ended up on remeron I have sometimes wondered whether that initial adverse reaction harmed my sleep mechanism and that's why sleep has been such an issue for me in withdrawal

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Jemima   
Jemima

When I first went into withdrawal from Lexapro this is exactly what the insomnia was like. I would not be able to sleep for one and a half to two days at a time and then I'd drop off sometime in the afternoon and sleep for maybe five to seven hours. I tried everything I could think of from benzos to booze, but the only thing that worked was darkening the room and wearing a sleep mask. Once I tried that I was able to sleep on a more normal schedule and I began to heal. My light sensitivity during the first few months of withdrawal was severe to the point of painful and caused a lot of irritability that would have appeared irrational to someone who didn't know what was going on.

 

I probably sleep too much now that I can, because I'm so afraid of not getting enough sleep again.

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Jemima   
Jemima

I'm somewhat relieved to hear others report this. I don't think my doctor ever believed me. I tried numerous benzos but they would work for a night or two and that was it.

 

Interestingly I also had this when I was first put on ADs. It was Effexor I went for 8 weeks getting less than ten hours a week andost nights none. That's why I ended up on remeron I have sometimes wondered whether that initial adverse reaction harmed my sleep mechanism and that's why sleep has been such an issue for me in withdrawal

 

Please don't worry about your "sleep mechanism" being damaged. There's nothing mechanical about the brain and as we've all seen here, some of the worse cases of AD withdrawal eventually heal.

 

Antihistamines are notorious for "backfiring" as sleeping medication. After some period of time, they become stimulating instead of sedative. I had this happen to me in a period of about three months so probably your being on Remeron for close to eight years has already had this effect for a long time. I keep wondering if there's something you could switch to that would allow you to sleep while you taper off altogether. Maybe a tricyclic? I don't know, but it seems worth considering.

 

Here's a quote from Alto on the subject of antihistamines for sleep from last summer:

 

For withdrawal insomnia, people often use Benadryl, a sedating antihistamine, to help sleep.

 

It's often an ingredient in nonprescription sleep aids, such as Nytol, Unisom, Tylenol PM, Excedrin PM, Midol PM and Advil PM.

 

Info about Diphenhydramine

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000704/

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diphenhydramine

 

The problem with is diphenhydramine is its beneficial sleep effect can wear off and it can go paradoxical -- it will keep you awake instead. So use it sparingly if you can.

 

Emphasis mine.

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alex   
alex

I have posted here that I've seen substantial improvement in areas like anxiety and anhedonia, and some physical symptoms.

But insomnia is relentless.I am sarting to wonder if it is w/d or something else.

When I had the terrible major depression, I had exactly the same symptoms of broken sleep;but it was worse.

The thing is that I have seen people here who never had this condition before and now in w/d they have sleeping issues.

So I don't know;it would be VERY helpful to hear from people that have seen improvement in their sleep.

Looking for some encouragement here.

Thank you.

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basildev   
basildev

Hi Alex,

 

I've struggled with insomnia since my updose in February. Before that I slept 10 hours per night regularly.

 

I've had various other symptoms including hot flushes, nausea, depression, acute anxiety, OCD thought processes, nightmares, muscle twitches and hypnic jerks.

 

For the most part all of these have subsided EXCEPT the insomnia. I continue to wax and wane with my sleeping. Some nights are great (9 hours) and some are awful (4 hours, broken). It's still up and down and I honestly don't know when it will get better.

 

From what I've read here and on other forums, insomnia seems to be the most persistent of the symptoms and often lingers on far longer than the other symptoms.

 

You're definitely not alone!

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compsports   
compsports

Hi Alex,

 

I feel insomnia was my worst symptom in getting off of psych meds. Totally understandable since two of them were sleep meds.

 

Of course, for all I know, what I blamed on the meds, could have been due to the sleep apnea.  Hard to tell.

 

You may have mentioned but can you at least nap?

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Adopting good sleep hygiene and some of our tips for helping withdrawal insomnia can reduce "normal" insomnia as well.

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alex   
alex

 

You may have mentioned but can you at least nap?

 

No, the other day I laid down and closed my eyes and I "think" I fell asleep...

It is a very thin line though.

The good thing about my night sleep is that even though very broken, it is becoming more natural, since I tapered off 12.5mg Seroquel and I am holding 0.25mg Xanax and going down to 0.20mg aprox.

I never had sleeping issues, just with the big depression.

Tough ride this is.

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alex   
alex

Please try to remember that you are seeing gradual improvement and include that in your posts. Try not to be panicky and negative, that will make the waves worse.

 

Thanks A,yes, there has been "significant" improvement in anxiety and anhedonia.Yesterday I went out to the sea.shore in a 4 hrs ride in car with my best friend, and I was able to enjoy,interact, tell a few jokes, LAUGH, I felt really great.3 months ago I did the same trip and it was completely different; I was very anxious,anhedonic and had bad DR.

I can tell the difference, absolutely.

I am waiting for my sleep to improve...

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ladybug   
ladybug

Well I've been going through some bad insomnia for that past 6 weeks or so. Some nights I get zero sleep, some nights I would get 4-5 hours broken sleep, and on the best nights I would get 4-5 hours in a row.

 

However the last week the pattern has changed and it's pretty frustrating. Now I can only sleep one hour at a time, whereupon I wake up, feel anxious and have adrenaline coursing through me. It takes me an hour to calm down, and I am able to fall asleep again, again I wake up after an hour with anxiety/adrenaline. This repeats all throughout the night. So on good night I am lucky to get 4-5 broken hours, but on bad nights it's more like 1-2. Has anyone else experienced this?

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Aria   
Aria

Yes, it's called Fight or Flight Syndrome and it's from excess Cortisol pumping thru your system (withdrawal symptom).  I started becoming afraid to try and sleep because being so "startled awake" was scarey. It will go away but for now it's awful to experience.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

I would take it to mean you are starting to sleep more deeply and getting that paradoxical alerting reaction. This is a stage in healing. Eventually your sleep will knit together.

 

Make sure you are sleeping in a room that is cool and very dark.

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ladybug   
ladybug

I'm happy to report that my sleep has slowly improved since the original post. In fact, last night I got 8 hours total- one five hour block, and one three hour block. This is one of the best nights I've had since this newest rough patch began. I'm sure it will get bad again, as it seems to be a windows/waves type thing when it comes to all of my symptoms. I am just grateful for any windows I get!

 

Alto, what you said about my alerting system is very interesting. I had an awful time with severe hypnic jerks for over a year and a half. I do still get hypnic jerks, though not nearly as bad as they were before I quit Magnesium Glycinate. I've been meaning to post about it in the Magnesium thread. I would love to start taking Magnesium again, and the Glycinate version is the only one I can tolerate, I'm just scared of the hypnic jerks worsening. I will make that post now.

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SigmundFreud   
SigmundFreud

i noticed i only sleep for 4-6 hours no matter what time i start sleeping. like no i woke up at 12 midnight after falling asleep at past 7pm. how can i improve this?

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SigmundFreud   
SigmundFreud

is 4-5 hours of sleep enough? i cant seem to get more than 6 every night no matter what time i fall asleep. i woke up 12 midnight today after falling asleep at around past 7.  how do i improve this?

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Please read the links in the first post in this topic.

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GiaK   
GiaK

I've got a post with a long list of stuff that I use at various times...sometimes in unison other times in combination...see if any of it resonates...all of it takes time and helps a little...no miracles here, but they've all saved me at one time or another:

 

http://beyondmeds.com/2013/02/05/help-for-insomnia/

 

see this too: 

 

http://beyondmeds.com/2013/08/11/insomnia/

 

all of it together it a lot to look at...take one link a day...there really are lots of suggestions there. 

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LightEmergesFromDarkness   
LightEmergesFromDarkness

hi all. i have had issues with chronic insomnia since being a very young child. on/off for the past 2-3 yrs, i have been taking Benadryl as an otc sleep-aid for those nights when i have to go to work early the next morning and the previous night before i was not able to sleep at all. but it seems now that there are times when either my insomnia is so bad that the Benadryl does not work, or that Im starting to possibly getting used to the effects of the medication on my body? mind you that i also suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies year round and also use the Benadryl for my allergies, which at times can get severe. and i should mention that i do take breaks from using the Benadryl as a sleep-aid, because i know that it can cause re-bound insomnia if used for more than a few days at a time. so im interested in learning more natural ways of inducing sleep at night. i thought the post on using epsom salts in a hot bath was helpful. may have to try that one sometime. 

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MrAnxious   
MrAnxious

Hey lady I came to your post because I am having the same problem with my sleep..been about 13 months since my last grain of effexor. Can you tell me your timeline on how this all got better and if it is still? Msg me please..I'm getting 4 hours max only..frustrating but improvement from hourly break up sleep

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ladybug   
ladybug

Your profile says you are unable to receive messages, so I will just post here.

 

 How long has your sleep been bad? My insomnia seems to come in waves. My hormones definitely affect it negatively, so my sleep hasn't been great lately. I am still tapering so I can't tell you how long it will take to go away completely. I had that waking every hour with anxiety/adrenaline for about a week. Then I was just waking every hour. Then I would awaken every 2 hours, then it got longer. Now I am back to taking hours to fall asleep and waking up frequently, but not with physical anxiety. My sleep just goes up and down, there really is no set pattern. Wish I could be of more help.

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Needmylifeback   
Needmylifeback

I realize that good sleep hygiene techniques that are non medical work well for so many people! And I use many of them myself.

 

But with my two traumatic injuries, my physical pain made sleep nearly impossible. One medication I found that has helped me is tizanidine... It's a muscle relaxer. When I had an urgent appendectomy in July 2013 I had sharp muscle spasms!! So I used flexiril for a couple of weeks until my abdomen and intestines quit twitching and flopping :P

 

I have used the tizanidine off and on since 2002 and asked for it again in 2009 when I learned my bones were still broken from a trauma in may 2008.... Tizanidine breaks easily into 1/4ths. It wears off in three hours. So if I wake up and can't get back to sleep at 3am, I can still take this and sleep for those precious early morning hours!! What sleep I can get between 5-10am is the most crucial for me to be in any way functional!! So having something I can take to help me fall asleep when I wake prematurely has been a godsend!

 

I have used it and gone off it and never seen any problems. I had been put on traditional sleep meds.... Including a disastrous run with ambien. I hated them all. But the muscle relaxer has been for me clean and easy .... No side effects. No withdrawal. No dependence. Maybe it can help someone else ....

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compsports   
compsports

hi all. i have had issues with chronic insomnia since being a very young child. on/off for the past 2-3 yrs, i have been taking Benadryl as an otc sleep-aid for those nights when i have to go to work early the next morning and the previous night before i was not able to sleep at all. but it seems now that there are times when either my insomnia is so bad that the Benadryl does not work, or that Im starting to possibly getting used to the effects of the medication on my body? mind you that i also suffer from indoor and outdoor allergies year round and also use the Benadryl for my allergies, which at times can get severe. and i should mention that i do take breaks from using the Benadryl as a sleep-aid, because i know that it can cause re-bound insomnia if used for more than a few days at a time. so im interested in learning more natural ways of inducing sleep at night. i thought the post on using epsom salts in a hot bath was helpful. may have to try that one sometime. 

RavenHeart,

 

Could untreated allergies be causing your insomnia?  Have you seen an allergist and tried the usual non med remedies like nasal irrigation?  I am considering it for myself although it hasn't worked in the past. But many people swear by it.

 

Good luck in resolving your issues.

 

CS

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

Yes, Benadryl can become ineffective. Please use search on this site to see our discussions about Benadryl.

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Meimeiquest   
Meimeiquest

I am really light sensitive, but couldn't tolerate a sleep mask. I just got an expensive ($40) Tempurpedic one from Amazon and it is fabulous. Its major point of contact is the cheekbone, probably not good if you have sinus pain there, but nothing touches the eyes, so you can do your REM movements all you want. I am still not sleeping a long time...that's probably a few years away....but I sleep like a rock when I'm asleep.

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Altostrata   
Altostrata

i noticed i only sleep for 4-6 hours no matter what time i start sleeping. like no i woke up at 12 midnight after falling asleep at past 7pm. how can i improve this?

 

Keeping regular hours allows your circadian rhythm to reset. Go to bed and get up at the same times each day.

 

Make sure your bedroom is very dark. The hours you are sleeping will gradually lengthen. (4-6 hours sleep is not bad for withdrawal syndrome.)

 

I am really light sensitive, but couldn't tolerate a sleep mask. I just got an expensive ($40) Tempurpedic one from Amazon and it is fabulous. Its major point of contact is the cheekbone, probably not good if you have sinus pain there, but nothing touches the eyes, so you can do your REM movements all you want. I am still not sleeping a long time...that's probably a few years away....but I sleep like a rock when I'm asleep.

 

Mmmm! The Amazon reviews say it's completely light-blocking. I might try this next. (Price seems to have come down a little, to about $30.)

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