My experience with insomnia

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Not sleeping sucks right? Staring at the ceiling or staring at the annoying light glow coming from your alarm clock. Everyone’s been there.

I can safely say I’ve been there a lot. I have been experiencing insomnia for the past 2 years. I’m bipolar and a feature of the illness is chronic insomnia.

I always thought it was one of those things that you have to put up with. A thing that you can’t control. Turns out you can do something about it. So I’ll tell you what works for me currently.

Some people are anti-medication. But the fact of the matter is if you’re not sleeping well you have to do something about it. So I went to my Doctor about a month ago, I had been there countless times before, complaining about my insomnia. But this time it was worse.

Literally. Nothing. Worked.

I tried cinnamon and walk milk. I tried a sleep aid that helped regulate breathing called Dodow. I tried exercise. I tried sleep supplements. I tried adjusting the light on my iphone. It just didn’t work.

So I had enough and told my Doctor. I told him that I still wasn’t sleeping properly (despite the countless med changes). He looked at me, nodded and agreed. I was relieved he was actually on the same page as me.

So he wrote a prescription for Stillnox (Ambien) and sent me on my merry way.

Ever since I filled my script I have been sleeping soundly. I take my medication around 11pm, and I’m asleep by 11:45pm, without fail.

Stilnox (Ambien) has been my saving grace and I would be helpless without it. I take it with 10 mg of melatonin it seems to give me that extra kick that I need to drift off soundly. Combining Stilnox with melatonin has worked wonders for me.

Whilst I do stare at the alarm clock for a little while trying to get to sleep, and maybe flick the TV back on and watch a few minutes of a sitcom, I eventually go to sleep.

I generally sleep for about 10 hours. You might be thinking, wow that’s a lot of sleep… But to me, it’s not because I’m bipolar and my body just requires more sleep.

The only thing I’m thinking of doing differently is taking my meds earlier so I can wake up earlier. Rolling out of bed at 10am is not really cutting it. I need to wake up earlier so I can accomplish more in my day.

Another thing is the groggy feeling I have in the morning. I have to have a coffee (or two) and I lay on my bed for a while until I get up and get moving. As far as I know, there is nothing I can do to improve this and it’s just a side effect of the meds.

As a result of my erratic sleep patterns, I decided that the best bet was to work from home. So I have been working on a writing portfolio to work as a freelance writer.

Being creative with my career is something that I’ve learnt to do over the past 2 years since I’ve been struggling to maintain a 9–5 job. So I’ve been working as a business consultant and a grant writer locally. But most recently I have discovered I love health and writing about it is like therapy to me.

I’ve learnt to embrace my insomnia and use it to my advantage. Writing late at night is my favourite thing to do. It’s so quiet and still outside and I can think clearly. I get this real burst of energy and I can achieve a lot.

So if you are reading this and you have insomnia like me — know that you’re not alone. Medication might be the first step for you to regain control over your sleeping.

Don’t reject the idea of medication if you are really struggling. It might be just what you need. Just know that it’s not a long-term solution and you should investigate natural alternatives to aid you in the future.

Make sure you bring up the issue with your Doctor. If they don’t know about your problem then they can’t help you. It’s best to be open and honest about it and take their advice.

Another idea is talking to a Psychologist to help you. Many are trained in techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) (I’ve heard great things!) as well as having a good understanding of sleep hygiene. Therapy will help you process your anxious thoughts and develop strategies. It has helped me with my anxiety in the past so I’m going back soon.

So there you have it that’s my experience with insomnia and what has worked for me. I hope you find the solution you are looking for and get some much-needed rest! I’ll be rooting for ya!

Please note: make sure you consult a Doctor, this article is merely a guide and should not replace medical advice from a professional.

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