After bargaining with God and begging for just one hour of sleep every night for about a year I realized I had a sleep disorder. Watching the LED numbers on the clock change from minute to minute, and hour to hour is a regular part of my existence. I am an insomniac and have been for nine years. This is a condition that can deeply effect ones’ life. Though insomnia sufferers learn to manage, long term it does effect the quality of ones’ life and overall health. After little or no sleep, during the waking hours ones’ ability to operate at peak performance is decreased as is accuracy, awareness, judgment, motor skills and attitude.
Insomnia can be treated. It is all about finding the treatment plan that is conducive to ones’ health and lifestyle. The decision however must be made responsibly by the individual being treated for insomnia. There are many options available but first one must try to establish the lying cause for the sleep deficit. This requires a lot of honesty, self-examination, and ultimately seeking a professional opinion to resolve the issue. When I first went to see a physician regarding my insomnia, one of the first questions he asked was if I was stressed about anything? Who is not stressed about something in the world that we live in today? Not only was I stressed but I’m at a point in my life to where there were also hormonal issues. In addition, my day was starting at 2:00 a.m. to make a two-hour commute, four days a week , which I did for five years. That kind of schedule in addition to the other factors just might be capable of wreaking havoc on an individuals’ body clock. So here I was stressed with hormonal issues and I had abused my natural sleep pattern due to my work schedule. My physician immediately prescribed a low dose of Restoril, which is a sleeping pill that is normally given for ten days at a time. Tolerance problems with Restoril eventually led to a change of medication, at which point I was prescribed Ambien, another sleeping pill that became my temporary solution for eight years. Then one night I saw on the news where people were being arrested for driving on Ambien, and where others had exhibited strange behavior after having taken the medication. Others taking the sleeping pill even claimed to have gained massive amounts of weight from eating binges after having taken the drug. As with all drugs there are side effects. Please understand, It is not that the drug in itself is so much a problem as there are people who must take sleep medication due to certain medical conditions. The problem is in not taking the prescription as directed. You must be prepared to go to sleep and be in the bed within fifteen minutes of taking the drug or hallucination occurs.
Having concerns, and seeking other options for treatment for my insomnia, I spoke with my physician and it was agreed that I could taper myself off of the drug , as tapering is required to avoid seizures. It is never advisable to discontinue use of a drug such as this without consulting your physician. It was agreed that I could slowly discontinue the use of Ambien. This required a lot of discipline and a lot of patience. It has taken some time, to be exact it took about two to three months to detox and be able to develop a natural sleep pattern again. It takes a lot of effort but it can be done. Here are a few of the things I incorporated into my life to be able to promote healthy natural sleep:
Ã?Â· Monitoring of diet and caffeine intake is essential. There is no caffeine intake after 5:00 p.m.
Ã?Â· No electronics the two-hour period prior to retiring. I read instead as it naturally allows me to fall into a drowsy state thus promoting sleep.
Ã?Â· No electronics in the bedroom.
Ã?Â· I drink caffeine free bedtime tea with melatonin as well as warm milk if need to promote drowsiness. Caffeine free teas with Chamomile Flowers, Lemon Grass, Spearmint Leaves, Tilia Flowers, Peppermint Leaves, Passionflower Leaves, Blackberry Leaves, Orange Blossoms, Hawthorn Berries, and Rosebuds all act as a natural sedative.
Ã?Â· Occasional use of melatonin tablets (a physician approved natural over the counter sleep-aid).
Ã?Â· If necessary the use of a black out mask and earplugs to enhance the sleep experience.
Ã?Â· Occasional use of a sound machine to relax and decompress when ear plugs are not in use (available in retail stores).
Ã?Â· Most importantly the bedroom should not be cluttered. It should instead be a retreat and a place of repose. Sometimes we must trick the mind so that it knows it is time to go to sleep. The environment should be conducive to promoting relaxation and serenity.
I am not a physician or health care professional. I am an insomniac that has closely followed the treatment plan prescribed by medical professionals qualified to treat me for this disorder. Any deviations from the treatment plan were evaluated and approved by medical professionals. Given I have no life threatening illnesses or extreme pain or discomfort, as some people may and require the use of sleep aids, I have chosen an alternative and conservative method of treatment so that I may again regain control of my life. Everyone given his or her circumstance and the seriousness of the illness must make the choice that is most beneficial to his or her situation and long term health. More importantly, follow the instructions of the treating physician to the letter. With a little determination and commitment to the plan that is best for you and your situation, and cooperation with your health care professional as a team, you too can and will rest well again.