Insomnia and Those Dreaded Sleep Medications

I struggle with insomnia and have for quite some time.  I remember my mother telling me even when I was still a teenager, that for many women, insomnia worsens around menopause, and that the older you get, the more difficult sleeping becomes.  So far, dear old mother was spot on.

I talked to my doctor and a therapist about insomnia many years ago.  The therapist talked to me about my “sleep hygiene,” a term that was foreign to me.  Sleep hygiene is simply just good sleeping habits.  The therapist also recommended a book called Insomnia Cures: Sleep Hygiene Practice Makes Permanent.  I purchased the book, read it, and found it to be helpful.  It was a good book that I’d kinda like to reread again but unfortunately, I loaned it to a fellow book club member who also suffered from insomnia, and I never got it back.

I can’t really brag on my sleep hygiene as there’s probably lots of room for improvement where that’s concerned.  For one thing, I’m a night owl and I’ve never been able to get that turned around.  I developed terrible sleeping habits in veterinary school.  I can’t begin to tell you how many nights I never even made it to bed because I just never could seem to “finish” studying.  I’ve said before, that I simply just feel better at night.  Around 10 pm is when I come alive and want to clean house and do other productive stuff.   I remember the book also said the only two things you should do in your bed is sleep and have sex.  Well, I read in bed and I do crossword puzzles in bed and apparently, that’s a big no-no.  I’m the type person who has to “wind down” before going to bed.  My husband and both my sons can walk in a bedroom, turn out the light, climb in bed, and be snoring within minutes.  Literally within minutes.  Come to think of it, my dad was the same way.  Maybe that’s a “man thing” because I’ve NEVER been able to do that.  I always have to read a while in bed.

My primary care doctor has tried sleep aid medications on me.  He’s tried both Ambien and Lunesta.  I hated the way Ambien made me feel.  I felt goofy while on it.  Apparently, one night I talked to a good friend on the phone after taking it and the next day that friend said I was talking all crazy.  I didn’t even remember the conversation!  I did other things on it that I had no recollection of the following day (like eating, doing laundry and ordering things off the Internet).  It got to be scary.  I got off of it when a lady at my church told me there really was such a thing called “Ambien sex” where a person taking Ambien has incredible sex within about 10-15 minutes of taking Ambien, but then has no recollection of even having sex the next day!

I tried Lunesta, a sedative hypnotic drug used to treat insomnia.  Lunesta is supposed to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.  Lunesta made me have horrible, vivid nightmares.  Those nightmares were always extremely violent and I was usually being chased, attacked, or assaulted in those Lunesta dreams.  My husband was losing sleep while I was on Lunesta because he was  forever having to shake me awake because I was usually screaming out in those very scary nightmares.

One night after taking the Lunesta, I was dreaming I was in Australia and I was being chased by dingoes (an Australian canine).  I have NO idea why I dreamed that particular dream.  In the dream, there was a circle of dingoes around my body and they were biting at my ankles and lower legs.  This was a very vivid and colorful dream.  I still remember the red blood squirting from the dingo bites I received.  My gray and white geriatric cat, Bigfoot, always slept between my feet and legs in the bed with me and he was sleeping there on the night I had this dream.  In the dream, I was trying to beat at the dingoes with my fists and I actually woke up from that dream screaming and beating at poor Bigfoot.  That poor cat was so traumatized and the look on his face was just one of pure shock and horror as he jumped off the bed and went running.  I can’t begin to tell you how terrible I felt.  I had hurt my own cat while acting out this Lunesta dream!  After that, I told my doctor I was stopping the Lunesta and I never wanted it prescribed to me again. I told him I would rather have insomnia than those vivid, violent nightmares.  It was weeks before my Bigfoot kitty even had the nerve to get back in bed with me but bless his heart, he did start sleeping with me again.  I remember my doctor telling me the most common side effect his patients complained about while on Lunesta, was a bad taste in their mouth upon awakening.  He had never heard a patient (until me) complain about nightmares.  I had looked it up though and read that Lunesta could cause vivid and “abnormal” dreams.  I had them almost nightly while taking Lunesta and I was reaching the point where I didn’t want to go to sleep at night!  I mean, who wants to have nightmares every single time they fall asleep?  Not me!

Recently, I’ve been taking Melatonin which a lot of people seem to have good success with.  Some nights it works well, other times it doesn’t seem to work at all.  I started out with a fairly small dose and will gradually increase it until I find which dose works for me.

Do you have trouble with insomnia?  What has worked for you?  Have you ever tried Ambien or Lunesta?  Any luck with Melatonin?  


About Gail

I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, veterinarian, and wanna be writer. I love nature and animals of all kinds, music, cooking, and spending time with my family.
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15 Responses to Insomnia and Those Dreaded Sleep Medications

  1. misifusa says:

    I found that CBD helps me to sleep. I sent you the information via email in case you were interested or had any questions. 🙂

  2. Relax... says:

    Wow, sorry to hear you suffer from insomnia. It’s very demoralizing, knowing your next day is going to suffer from a lack of enough refreshing sleep. I don’t have it often, and it’s usually when I’ve pushed the envelope with late coffee drinking, but son takes Melatonin and it helps. I believe one of my daughters takes it, too, and I know that a nursing home resident took Valerian root tea (in tablet form, I think). She swore by it. Sometimes when I couldn’t sleep and needed to because there would be no time for a nap the next day and I’d be up early and later working physically hard until perhaps 10 pm, I just put it into God’s hands. Did He want me to sort of keep someone company spiritually — maybe someone in my family, or maybe someone hidden to many others and suffering all alone? Did He want me to keep HIM company? 🙂 Or maybe the Pope? lol Or maybe little children somewhere, scared and with no champion nearby to calm them (or worse). Perhaps some disappeared Chinese bishop? Someone dying? Someone losing their faith? Maybe I was awake so someone else could sleep — did we trade a night? Well, bottom line, I don’t believe suffering ever goes to waste, if we put it up there on the Cross with His own. Still, I hope you find something that helps you sleep! It’s crucial even when not working. ❤

    • Gail says:

      My sister used to take Valerian root several years ago and said it helped her. Lately, I pull out my devotional books (all eight of them are kept in a basket by my bed and I start reading until sleep comes). And sometimes, like last night, I pray. If the words don’t come easily, I get out the BCP or some other prayer books I also keep in a basket by my bed. I do drink hot tea at night (mainly for warmth) and I should probably give that up! Thanks for your input Carol…. very helpful as always and yes, I need to put it in God’s hands more instead of letting the anxiety of non-sleep affect me so much.

      • Relax... says:

        Gail, I wish I were faithful enough to hit some devotional books.. maybe for me that means it’s time for some new ones! I’ll tell you what I know for sure: I wish we were closer neighbors! By the way, what does “BCP” stand for?

      • Gail says:

        I wish we lived closer too!

        BCP is Book of Common Prayer.

      • Relax... says:

        Ah, okay — thank you!

      • Gail says:

        And I wish I could be more disciplined to read The Bible but I tend to always reach for the Devotionals. I’m trying to work on that!

      • Relax... says:

        It’s hard to change up what one does! I had to force myself to finish reading (with LOTS of skimming through!) 2 spiritual books recently, because both seemed un-believable in spots and dry as dust! The smallest soul-value squeaked through, but I wonder if maybe sometimes we are just not ready for this or that!

      • Gail says:

        I hear ya! I did the same thing recently with a book I was reading. It quickly went into a Goodwill pile!

  3. I’ve had trouble sleeping for the past 5 or 6 years. My cure is to take Diphenhydramine. It’s what’s in Benadryl and is not habit forming. I know it really works for me because I realize I’ve forgotten to take it when I’m up until 2 or 3 in the morning or else I’m waking up all night long. I also figured out that tea was keeping me up for hours & hours so I don’t drink any tea past 6:00. Oddly coffee doesn’t affect me that way. I’ve used Melatonin when I’m already really tired but want to sleep through the night.
    Oh, and my husband is asleep within in minutes too. It’s amazing to me. 😀

    • Gail says:

      My husband and I both sometimes take Benadryl too and it definitely makes me sleep but I get that Benadryl hangover the next day and just feel like I’m dragging. A therapist once told me she had a love/hate relationship with Benadryl. She said it does help with sleep but she read in a psych journal about its use for insomnia and said that it has the potential to cause sleepwalking and vivid dreams too. So she questioned its use as an insomnia aid. I don’t really recall having vivid dreams on it. I know the Nyquil cold medicine sure makes me sleep (I wish they marketed just the antihistamine in that). I do probably drink tea too late. I usually only drink coffee in the morning but occasionally I will have a cup with dinner (especially on really cold days like today) and then a cup of tea before bedtime (I try to do decaf but not always). I probably should knockout the nighttime tea. And what is it about men being able to fall right off to sleep???? 🙂

      • This may not mean anything, but I’m not using the Benadryl cold medicine. It’ just diphenhydramine. I don’t know what-all is in Benedryl or if that other stuff has any affect on sleep. I haven’t had any problems with it, but everyone’s different. Good luck with your search for a solution!

      • Gail says:

        Thanks! I think the Benadryl Cold medicine also has tylenol and a decongestant in it. I think only the diphenhydramine is what causes the drowsiness. I’m glad that Benadryl is working for you!! My husband takes it when he can’t sleep and it helps him too.

  4. Relax... says:


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