How I Stopped Taking Sleeping Pills and Got a Better Night's Sleep

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I remember back when I was a teenager spending hours trying to get to sleep. If I wanted to get to sleep at a decent time I had to start several hours before everyone else but I never remember anyone mentioning sleeping pills. They just weren't a thing. It wasn't until I began working night shift at a nursing home, shortly after graduation, that I could finally sleep. The minute I came home I was out and it was the best sleep of my life. But it was short lived and I eventually rejoined the day walkers. I had some issues with sleep but nothing like I did after my daughter was born. 

I couldn't turn off my thoughts. I tossed and turned all night long and was constantly getting up to pee. I figured my daughter had destroyed my bladder, like so many women before me, and getting up 7-10 times a night was normal. During my postpartum depression, the first night I was in the hospital they gave me an Ambien. I was not really asked it was more or less pushed on me. I was very nervous about taking a sleeping pill since I had never tried anything like it. They told me to make sure I was laying down within 30 minutes and I didn't even last that long. Within 10 minutes I had to leave my chair and crawl into bed and the next thing I remember was waking up the next morning. From there Ambien became a regular habit for several months. I was still able to get up in the night and heard my daughter every time she even made a peep. However, it was the minutes, sometimes hours, before I went to be that Ambien was all wrong for me. The more you fight sleep the more drugs like Ambien make you giddy, hyper, and you can even hallucinate. The one story I always heard was that people got up in the middle of the night and ate weird things like whole tubs of butter and other odd things. Luckily I did not get up and do weird stuff. But my husband and I decided I should find an alternative.

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I made the decision to get my B.A. while being a stay at home mom which meant many late hours. Even still I couldn't sleep and decided the best "alternative" was an over the counter sleep aid. I tried so many different ones but found I needed an extra push, as well as pain management, so I began using acetaminophen in conjunction with the sleep aids. That led me to Tylenol PM. At first it was one pill, then two, then three, and then finally four every night. As many will tell you tolerance to sleeping pills is a very likely scenario, although I'm sure that's with many things. I have not went a night without sleep aids for 5 years. I look back and can't imagine what I was thinking. But I was desperate. So I'm happy to report I not longer use them and it only took me two weeks to get off them. Here is how it happened for me. 

Almost two months ago I finally got sick of everything. Its an odd feeling when you look around at your life and want everything to be different immediately. I wanted to be more active, be out more, have a schedule, everything. That sounds overwhelming and it was. There was only so much I could do at once so I started walking. It was nice and I took advantage of my daughters school hours. Mind you my aim was not to get off sleeping pills. The the weather got too cold and nasty for a while and I wanted to move so bad that I started working out in the house. I didn't want to be stopped. So I looked for free workouts and decided I would do what I could, no reason to push myself. A few weeks after that I moved toward watching what I was eating and starting counting calories like I do now and then. I am not someone who drinks soda, fruit juice, or other sugary drinks. I also do not consume caffeine so many of the pitfalls others run into have not been an issue for me. 

Then my husband came to me with the idea of the Keto Diet or low carb high fat. I thought he was crazy, and as you can see from my last post its expensive. I had been scared of fat my whole life, after all I'm a heart patient. But as I started reading what other women had experienced on the diet something caught my attention. They were sleeping better. So I figured I'd give it a go, what could a few weeks or month hurt. So I did, went through the awful Keto flu where your body is switching from carbs to fat, and had the worst sugar cravings of my life. I broke a few times and wolfed down a few Cadbury Eggs while I cried, ya know cause I'm a girl and when we go off the rails we go OFF THE RAILS. Eventually the sugar cravings were no more. I made it through the worst part and worked my way down from four Tylenol PM a night to two and then switched to Sleep Sheets natural sleep aid. After a week, or more, on those I ran out and then I just went to bed. I'm not going to say I never struggle but I was actually tired and most nights never got up for anything. Yesterday I broke my diet and had some honey and some fruit pretty high in sugar, and you know what? I couldn't sleep! I didn't get to sleep until 5 am!

I personally think its a combination of things for me. I have to move a lot through the day, including exercise, I'm very sensitive to sugar and most forms of carbs, I have to have a set schedule, and I have to give myself enough time to just think before going to bed. So many people want to stop the thinking process so they can sleep but I enjoy it and always have. I have forgotten some of the greatest ideas, i'm sure. Its part of my personality to think a lot and having that time to think helps me and I feel more relieved so I can sleep. A simple list will not take care of everything swimming around in there. 

So I would suggest to someone if what you are doing isn't working change an aspect, then another, and another until its right. I'm not saying everyone can do without but most probably can. How is it that we ALL need them now when we didn't have this issue a few decades ago or a century ago. Part of it is we're humans and were meant to be moving not sitting all day like many of us have to. Even that little bit of movement in the morning is critical for our health. How can we expect our bodies to rest when the day is done when it more than likely thinks we've been resting all day. Its like being bed ridden, when we're sick we get tired of sleep. Our bodies are tired of sleep and turned on high gear with sugar and caffeine. Maybe, just maybe, the pills aren't necessary. 


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