Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cold Turkey

I've recently made some pretty drastic changes in my life involving making healthier choices.  I've had terrible insomnia for about five years now, maybe six, and I've resorted to taking a variety of sleeping pills.  Sometimes prescription, sometimes not.  Sometimes just a melatonin supplement.  But on a typical night here lately, I was taking an Ambien, and Ativan, and a melatonin every night just to get some sleep.

I know this isn't good for me.  And I know I was addicted to them.  Not like physically addicted so much as psychologically addicted.  I was terrified I couldn't sleep without them.  And being terrified is not conducive to a good night's sleep.

So, I spoke with my doctor, and she recommended that I cut out, or at least strictly limit, my caffeine intake.  I don't think I drink a ton of caffeine compared to the average person.  Most mornings I'd have either one cup of coffee or one diet soda.  Maybe a cup of hot tea on the weekends.  And then most afternoons I'd have a diet soda.  So, two drinks per day.  If I was at some crazy boring work thing and just dying to make it through, I might have an extra soda or two.

The doctor also recommended that I take a walk outside right after getting up each morning.  Not so much for weight loss or health as for helping my internal clock re-set itself and know that, "Hey!  The sun is shining!  It's time to be awake now!"

Oh, and she told me the whole spiel about waking up at the same time every morning and going to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends, blah blah blah.  We've all heard it before.

So, I don't recommend that you do this, but what I did was rip the band aid off all at once.  I quit the caffeine and all the sleeping pills cold turkey.  And I spent about 48 hours not sleeping AT ALL and suffering from terrible headaches, nausea, etc...  This probably would have been much more bearable had I weaned myself off everything more slowly.  But hey, it's done now, and I survived.

I'm also walking 30 minutes most mornings.  Probably five per week.  If I have to be somewhere early for work, it just doesn't happen.  But if I'm home, or if my appointments aren't until later in the day, I get up, eat something, check e-mail and phone messages, and then take my walk.

Now the same time every day thing?  Well, sleeping in is one of my greatest pleasures in life.  So, I'm not adhering to that too strictly.  Some mornings I have to be up at 6:00 for work, and others I can sleep until 8:00.  And on the weekends, I seriously look forward to not having an alarm.  But, for the most part, I'm making 8:00 my "regular" wake up time, and I can deal with that.  I know that's not reasonable for a lot of people, but when I work from home and don't have be "at work" until 9:00, it's doable for me.  And now that I'm off all this stuff, I've been waking up on my own about 9:00 on weekends anyway.  So, I'm not straying too far.

I have to say, I do feel better.  I still have a terrible time falling asleep.  Like some nights it takes me 3 hours.  But I do sleep some.  And I've gone through this thing of having crazy nightmares every time I do sleep.  (Which, again, doesn't really make one motivated to fall asleep!)  I think because Ambien tends to prevent one from dreaming.  So, I've got it all backed up or something.

But I'm proud of myself for sticking with it, and for the progress I'm making.  I haven't slept without something, even  if just a melatonin or 1/2 a Unisom, for years.  And now I'm taking nothing. Yay me!

1 comment:

Karen Peterson said...

Congratulations! That is really great. I know those headaches from going off of caffeine. They're a beast for a day or two, but then it passes and everything's so much better.