I was having dinner with some friends a few months back and was shocked to learn how different people handle their drive to sleep. Others did not hesitate to take Ambien, Trazadone or even Benedryl should it look to be another night of tossing and turning. I have my own sleep strategies mind you, and have been through tough times- years in length – where lack of sleep infected my daily existence. I’ve also had years following that time period where thanks to a prescription sleep drug I slept like a baby.
Here is the definition of insomnia courtesy of the Mayo Clinic: “Chronic insomnia is defined when you have problems falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or experience nonrestorative sleep that occurs on a regular or frequent basis, often for no apparent reason.”
How many people in the US suffer from this condition? There are about 60 million of us.
Why does it happen? Most people I know who have trouble sleeping are dealing with additional stress and anxiety in their life. Add some bad ‘sleep hygiene’ such as coffee late in the day, a big meal right before bed, using one’s bed for work and so on and the recipe for laying awake all night is complete. Then when you add in the ‘frequent basis’ part, you can see why everyone is amiable to a sleep medication. Sure, as a doctor once said me, no one ever died from lack of sleep but what she didn’t mention is that you can lose your mind.
With the help of Trazadone (daily) I slept great for five years. No one needed to tell me that I was reliant on this drug. And then one day, out of the blue I thought – time to get off of this stuff. The timing seemed right for this adventure. I was experiencing a prolonged natural high from the purchase of my first home, work was going well – in short there wasn’t anything at that moment to keep me awake at night. And, worst case scenario, I’d be out some sleep and return to the Trazadone.
Fortunately, with the help of a Chinese herbalist the challenge did work out though I had no idea of the emotional toll it would take. Twice each day for 2 weeks I brewed some smelly herbs in a large pot of boiling water and drank up. My herbalist said that I should avoid taking Trazadone, plus the herbs seemed to be working. Unfortunately there were some side effects to go through since Trazadone is a mild antidepressant. In the end I was able to get off the daily drug use and when insomnia rears its ugly head and threatens to stay awhile I combat it with an Ambien (apparently a very addictive sleep medication so I use it sparingly).
I know that stress and anxiety are the main cause of my insomnia. Recently, however, with all the research I’ve been doing on organic mattresses, I’ve started to wonder if my conventional, chemical laden mattress is playing any part in my inability to sleep through the night.