Waking Refreshed in the Morning is More Than Taking a Pill
I’ve been a night owl since I was a young child. I wouldn’t call it insomnia; I just assumed I was different. When I was six, I would create a wall of stuffed animals around me in my bed to feel safe, while listening to my little transistor radio for company. As I became older, I stayed awake to clean my room, read books, and watch late night television. It was peaceful, dark, and there was no bickering or arguments from my family or friends. It was like an escape from reality that gave me peace and a sense of calm.
Enter the True Insomnia Monster
I never suffered real insomnia until my late twenties. I had two children by that time and I was too tired to be functional but too awake to sleep. Lying awake and staring at the ceiling will allow your mind to take you places that you never want to go. Your sleepless mind will assure you that not only will you relive every mistake that you’ve ever made, remember terrible things that your parents have said to you in the past, but it will make you more neurotic with each passing second.
Cue the Psychiatrist
After many years, professional help was warranted. Countless nights of no sleep becomes wearing upon one’s body and soul. I needed solace. I sought treatment at an acclaimed psychiatric hospital for answers. I was diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), both of which were causing my insomnia.
Medication Merry-Go -Round
Asking to be taken off benzodiazepines and requesting sleep medication is a funny thing, at least to professionals. Most assume that you will be just fine with your Xanax and fall into a happy slumber at night. Not so for everyone. Ambien was exciting. I would wake up with food in my mouth after sleep-eating. Lunesta certainly didn’t deliver that fancy butterfly into my window at night to give my sleep kisses by alighting upon my nose. There were multiple medications I was given but nothing worked except when I was prescribed Trazodone.
Trazodone was the only medication that helped me sleep, or should I say, made me sleep. It came at heavy costs. I became a zombie. I could barely take care of my children, my home, or even bathe. I was constantly tired. My husband stepped in and he expressed concern about how the medication was affecting me as well as our children. It was either sleeping or my family. I chose my family. I began researching holistic methods to help me find relief.
Holistic medicine was a life-saver. I’ve learned many ways to induce sleep naturally. Meditation is important to reduce stress, which is a large contributor to insomnia and sleep-deprivation. Find ten minutes to close your eyes, breathe deeply, and let your mind wander. Hot herbal tea (perhaps with a shot of brandy), and a quiet hot bubble bath before bed is relaxing to not only your mind but your muscles. Turn off the television and computer before going to bed. Read a book once you are snuggled under the covers or write in your journal. Over time, your body will learn to accept peace so that you may drift off into dreamland. Turning off your mind and letting your thoughts flow to another outlet is the key. I conquered it, so can you.