Insomnia seems to run in my family. My dad suffered horribly from it and unfortunately it was one of the only things I inherited from him. I used to lay awake every night watching the clock, getting more frustrated with each passing hour. If I got 4 hours of sleep I considered that to be a “good night”.
Genital Anesthesia Anyone?
I finally saw a doctor about my sleep disorder when I attained the American dream of health insurance a few years ago. After hearing the story of my nightly adventures she confirmed that I was indeed an insomniac and recommended I try Lexapro, an antidepressant. I told her I was not depressed and was hoping for something more along the lines of a sleeping pill. She was undeterred however and assured me that Lexapro was the solution. Before picking up the prescription I happened to check out the side effects online. Among the many “common” side effects were “insomnia” and “genital anesthesia”. Maybe the doctor misheard me because insomnia was actually the thing I was trying to avoid and although I wasn’t depressed before I was pretty sure genital anesthesia would do the trick. I decided against picking up the Lexapro.
Day of The Living Dead
I tried a different doctor. In less than 5 minutes he prescribed me Ambien. Actually most of the appointment was taken up by a very important call he received about a trip to Tahoe. I think he would have prescribed me crack if it would have got me out of his office sooner.
I tried the Ambien. It sort of worked, but not really. I fell asleep around 2am instead of the usual 4am after taking it at midnight. The next day I got up around 8 and felt like a total zombie all day. It was actually worse than if I had just slept 4 hours. I tried it a few more times but decided it was not for me.
Then I tried Tylenol PM. Tylenol PM is to Ambien what Sauza is to Jose Cuervo. They are both awful and leave you hung over, but the Tylenol PM hangover is just evil. And it didn’t get me to sleep sooner than if I had taken nothing.
Goddess in a Little Black Smock
Out of sheer desperation I ended up at Whole Foods. The air was a strange mix of patchouli and pretension. A glowing girl in a smock lead me around filling my basket with herbs and supplements that totaled no less than $60. What I ended up with was 5-HTP (some kind of bean extract), valerian capsules (beware the smell), melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep cycles), and a box of Sleepy Time Extra tea. I felt like a sucker before I even left the store.
Incredibly though as I sat that night drinking my tea and popping my pills I started to feel like my face was melting. In a good way. I actually got to sleep not long after midnight and felt fine the next day. So that’s what I have stuck with and it still works most of the time. If I’m stressed about something sleep can still be elusive but I don’t get so frustrated about it.
I have also rediscovered yoga in a big way recently and I think it helps a lot. An intense class in the morning is best. It’s great exercise for people like myself who do not care much for exercise. Yoga is number 5 if your keeping count.
Hope this helps my fellow sleep seeker! If not you could always try Klonopin. I hear that works too.