My Heartbreaking Challenges of Medication Cycles With Insomnia
I have used medication to support my sleep, to enable me to fall asleep, and to allow me to sleep through the night, on and off for as long as I can remember. The challenges of medication cycles with insomnia can be heartbreaking, especially when the meds work and then they don't.
My early years with and without medication
I remember the chapters of life in which insomnia was my superpower. Being able to stay up all night long or sleep for 1 to 2 hours between dusk and dawn – those things made me a great student, a good friend, and a fully fueled employee. They also, in truth, taught me that I could push myself so hard and so far for so long before burning out. Before being unable to continue functioning.
Then, there were the chapters in which I couldn't function without medication to slow me down, allow my brain to sleep, and give me enough rest to recharge. As I've grown older, those chapters have expanded, lengthened, and to be completely honest, they've become way more frustrating than I predicted them to be.
When my sleep meds stopped working
In my 20s, I spent several years on the same sleep medication. It was great, and then it slowly stopped working.
I felt pretty balanced in all other senses, so I didn't jump to another medication. I took a pause. And I had a few good years where I didn't require medication for rest.
My time without my sleep meds
Sometimes, I needed meds as an "as-needed" option for support, but it was infrequent and I felt really grateful. I got better, more organic, and "kinder-to-my-body" sleep when it was not medication induced or sustained. (Although trust me, by the time I needed those things constantly, I was even more grateful that they were available to me.)
In the years leading up to the pandemic, I'd been trying to conceive. I'd gone through fertility treatment, then IVF, followed by a tough pregnancy and 6 months of breastfeeding. I was adamant that I took no medication that would be unsafe for my daughter during that time – which included most of the sleep medications I was aware of at the time.
Going back on meds again
When COVID-19 hit, I had a 9-month-old daughter. I was immunocompromised, in lockdown, and terrified. My anxiety skyrocketed and my ability to sleep disappeared. So, I went back on medication.
After a few weeks, I tapered myself off, feeling like I'd gotten through "the worst of it." Still, having a tiny human depending on me both at night and during the day, I didn't want to feel too "out of it," groggy, or exhausted – so there had to be some balance.
Trying several different types of meds
The last year and a half have been a totally different story.
I endured major physical and emotional trauma in August 2021, and since then sleeping has been impossible. I've tried several different types of medications, some not working at all, others working for days or for weeks, or even for a few months before stopping.
When my new meds failed... again
And each time, each time, the medication that was lulling me to sleep stopped, my heart plummeted towards the floor. I'd spend night after night tossing and turning, then giving up completely and getting out of bed.
I found organizing projects most soothing, but crafts like embroidery and diamond art to be quietest while the rest of the house was sound asleep. I found the mornings to be the hardest. Whenever I'd fall back asleep, it'd be too close to my alarm. The jarring sounds meant for me to rise and shine only served as painful reminders that I had hardly slept at all.
How do you plan to spread awareness about sleep this week?
My challenges with medication cycles
Truthfully, in 18 months I've been through almost a dozen combinations of sleeping medications – on and off label, at different doses and frequencies, sometimes full time and sometimes as needed; sometimes augmented with over-the-counter medication like Benadryl or medication used for anxiety to calm down my whole system.
And during that time – there've been some wins. Some valuable nights when I really rested. But ultimately, I still feel like there's just no good answer for me, and that makes me, and my insomnia, feel incredibly challenging.
Can you relate? I'd love to hear how you handle this struggle both mentally and physically.
Please share a comment with our community about the challenges of medication cycles with insomnia.
Have you participated in our forums?
Join the conversation