This is post two in a six week program aimed at curing your insomnia, not just treating it.
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Drugs and Other Help
When we first encounter insomnia, maybe for a night or two, it’s no bid deal. Chances are you chalked it up to something extraordinary happening in your life, and didn’t think much about it.
If the insomnia continues on for more than a couple of days, you might reach for some over-the-counter sleep remedy to see if that helps. Medication like Advil PM, NyQuil, Melatonin, or some sleep-specific tablet you see wandering the aisles of the pharmacy come to mind.
You might even consider a herbal remedy at this point. Valerian Tea or Chamomile are popular choices.
If none of these work, and the sleeplessness continues, it’s a safe bet that you likely reach out to your doctor. This is where you will probably walk away with a prescription for a sleeping pill.
It could be Ambien, Lunesta, Ativan, Trazadone, or a hundred others, but they all require prescriptions – so you’re doctor becomes your “dealer” of sorts.
Quit the Drugs
For this program to work, we’ve got to eliminate the drugs. All of them. Even the herbal ones. They all come under the banner of “treating” your insomnia. They’re much like a bandaid on a wound that will never heal. These treatments do nothing more than mask any kind of long-term cure.
There are two big downsides to using almost all pharmacutical and most over-the-counter sleep aids:
- They lose effectiveness over time. Many work for only a couple of weeks before you need to increase the dose to get the same effect. And at some point they will probably stop working altogether.
- The side effect profile of the drug can often be worse than the insomnia it set out to treat (read more on the blog about benzodiazepine withdrawl and the next-day hangover with OTC drugs).
Herbal remedies tend to have fewer side effects, but their efficacy is quite low too. Our aim with this program is to get you sleeping without taking anything at all…
This is easier said than done (I know, I’ve done it) and many of these medications will require a weaning period of days to months (depends on the substance). Take time to wean off properly. Be especially aware if you’re taking a benzodiazepine (or non-benzodiazepine) – side effects of sudden withdrawal can be life threatening. This link provides the trade names of benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepines.
Regardless of what you’re taking, start weaning off it. Do some research and find out if you can quit cold-turkey, or if you need to take some time. You can do this entire program while weaning off a drug, although you might find yourself “stuck” at a stage or two as the medication loosens its grip on your life.
Remember that this will be short term pain for long term gain. You can learn how to sleep again without any help.
Step 2 is get off the medication.
See you in four days with Step 3…