Sleep Medication - Successes and Failures
Last updated: November 2023
With as long as I have lived with insomnia, I've gone through phases of life where I've been on no sleep medication, where I have been on routine sleep medication, where I have been on as-needed sleep medication, and really any other pattern you could think of.
Two years ago I underwent a major physical and emotional trauma, and since then have required medication to sleep. But, I have also had quite a rollercoaster of events trying to find the right medication, at the right dosage, to work, to not burn out on, and to not have side effects from.
The ebbs and flow of medication for insomnia
To tell the whole story would be way too long, so what I'll share is this. In 24 months, I've tried 9 different medications at different doses and frequencies to be able to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Some I tried for a few weeks without every having success. Some I was on for several months with great success and even what I would consider "good sleep" until they would fizzle out. Others would provide some support, but not enough to rely on.
How many different medications/treatments have you tried for insomnia?
Seroquel for sleep
Most recently, I had been using a medication called Seroquel for sleep. This is a medication I tried a year or so ago, and it worked pretty well. At the same time, I had some major struggles with my panic disorder, and my psychiatrist increased my dose significantly, using the medication for both anxiety and sleep, and it immediately stopped working for sleep. This was very frustrating, and something we had to really reflect on how to proceed with.
When I returned to it about 2 months later we did not know if it would work.
I started at the lowest dose, and it helped me to fall asleep but not stay asleep. Then I increased to 2 pills, and for a few weeks, I was having good sleep at night. I was only waking to use the restroom, and that felt like a win for my doctor and I.
But then, sort of as quickly as it started to ramp up in efficiency, it began to ramp down. So then, with my psychiatrist's advice, I began coupling it with my anxiety medication. And then I was falling asleep faster, and staying asleep or sleeping deeper at night.
Asking for help
The only problem? I started waking up groggy in the morning. My alarm and I were fighting, I was pressing the snooze button more times than I should have been, and I did not feel rested during the day. I started adding to my caffeine consumption, and I knew right then that this current combination wasn't going to continue to work.
But what do you do when you have tried so many things and none of them have been what you ultimately are looking for?
You ask for help.
Managing medication successes and failures
I sought out a second opinion for my insomnia (and my still raging anxiety struggles), and made a change to my evening medication routine.
Instead of taking both the Seroquel and my anxiety medication, I stopped taking the Seroquel and began just taking my "as needed" anxiety medication. This was a few weeks ago, and while there are still mornings I wake up feeling groggy, I don't feel as sleepy as I was before.
When it comes time to assess successes and failures in your sleep medication, who's opinion do you seek out? Do you find it helpful? I'd love to read any advice you've learned below!
Do you experience painsomnia?