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Very interesting post. I've wondered the same thing, actually several times. I suppose I don't take the same thing, as I don't use a prescription, only a Melatonin Supplement. However, I cringe at the thought of having to go to sleep without it, as I also don't feel that I know how to fall asleep on my own anymore. No matter how tired I am, (and believe me, I'm tired! I have two 3.5 year olds and one 2.5 year old, plus go to school full time!) I cannot seem to fall asleep on my own... for me, though, it all started after I had babies. I feel like my sleep schedule has forever been altered. I hope this isn't true, but for now, that's life. :)

I just had to realize that 1 night (or 2) of insomnia, was NOT going to kill me. Seriously. Otherwise I'd still take one every night. Now I only take it if I've gone more than either a) two nights with NO sleep or b) three nights with less than a few hours of sleep.

Drugged sleep is NOT the same as natural REM sleep...I DO take melatonin or valerian root sometimes, instead of an RX. Maybe it's the same crutch, but I try to apply the same "rules" to it. I won't take them if it's the first night and I don't fall asleep right away. I only take them if it's been more than one night, and I"m trying to avoid the heavier drugs.

That being said? Each person is different, and some people really do need that extra help to turn their brains off. I always read before bed time...something light and easy, even if just for 10 minutes.

No, I don't ... because I do have that addictive personality. I just know I would get hooked. My sister did, ended up in rehab, blah blah, very difficult. Am obese, so addicted to food instead! Don't know which is worse. Sigh ...

Never taken one before. I sleep pretty well, except when the financial stress starts to creep into my mind........actaully, maybe I should try one. :-)

I read myself to sleep. Probably a slightly healthier crutch. Just don't take away my books !!!

Yes I managed to come off sleeping pills - with rehab. Been taking them ever since I got my first anxiety attack aged 19...continued taking them every single night, sometimes way earlier like 7pm just to combat anxiety, and eventually as the anxiety spiralled out of control, started taking them throughout the day!!!! Yes...scary, vicious cycle. Eventually submitted to rehab aged 25.

Have never taken one since, although I still suffer from insomnia because of AD's, but as you say, I much prefer myself on them than off.

(PS: You will find though, that if you manage to shake the addiction, your body WILL calibrate itself after a week or two and normal patterns will resume. It's tougher with AD's, but that is our burden.)

I don't do sleeping pills, but I am addicted to this CD. I can't sleep if I don't use it. Well I take that back, I can sleep without it in the afternoon when I'm hit with a bout of narcolepsy. But at night, I can't fall asleep unless I press that little button and hear this woman's voice that puts me to sleep. When I go out of town and forget that CD, I can't sleep the whole time I'm gone. If I go to a friend's house to stay the night, I might as well come home b.c I can't sleep without it.

I woke up just a bit ago and got up b.c I was worried about a friend. Now when I go back to bed, I'll have to hit the button and go back to sleep. At least it's not chemical. ;)

I voted never, but I think I may have once or twice - can't remember.

I have no advice on how to get off them. I have enough problems with Coke Zero and caffeine. (On day 3 of no CZ...but I'm drinking coffee like its water - scary). Thankfully, I don't have that problem with alcohol - because if I drank that stuff like I do CZ I'd be in rehab. Ye gads.

Never tried cigarettes for that very reason.

I take valerian at night before I go to bed, it's a herbal relaxant.

The old theory of addictive "personality" vs. organic condition is dead. Mood and Obsessive-Compulsivity disorders are *very* close relatives of the brain malfunction which causes dependence on alcohol and other psychotropics.
And it's all on a continuum---some have it less, some more acute. I'm a*cute (lol). I've been sober nearly 25 years, so my poll answers don't apply, really.

If it's a benzodiazipine, you might look into ways to reduce and substitute it with a less problematic alternative, depending on it's interaction with the benzo in your system (even though it sounds like whatever you're prescibed, your blood level is quite low; but we all know what a sensitive darling creature you are :-)

One of the best relaxants is of course, LOTS of exercize. :-O

Look into what reading material you might be drawn to which is more soporific than, say, potentially stress-attack inducing email. Non-work related, happy-memory/fantasy type or just damn dull. And using a teeny booklight instead of a regular bedside lamp. With a possibly natural sleep-supportive supplement, this may give some better habits.

I'm not gonna even mention meditation or yoga, hahaha.
LOVE you, mean it!!

I have been able to do so by taking a homeopathic remedy instead -- nux vomita. This particular remedy has a variety of applications and a medical consultation is recommended. However, I did this experiment on my own. I also use nux vomita when I get seasick. I eventually stopped using nux at night but had also changed/disengaged reading and writing habits before bed time. I was fine ever after.

https://abchomeopathy.com/r.php/Nux-v

My body/mind respond to nux right away whereas other homeopathic remedies have had no such effect on me. One should absolutely not take this during day time unless you're on a plane, and certainly not while driving since it does make one drowsy. I was extremely pleased to have made this discovery a few years back and felt safe using it.

Excuse me, the correct name of the remedy is "nux vomica."

I have always slept like the dead. Even now with the twins, I don't even bother reading (wasting my precious sleep time) - I just curl up and am literally gone in about30 seconds. Last night I heard the start of the Amazing Race on TV - the tune hadn't even ended and I was fast asleep.

My heart goes out to you - I would be a basket case without MORE sleep - and i'm already not getting my full 8 - 9 hours a night as it is with my 16-week-old preemie twins.

P.S. so obviously I never take sleeping pills :)

Gee, this is soooo scary. This post could have been written by me. When I had severe PND and went on AD's I took a whole sleeping pill for almost half a year. Now I take one a few times a month. However, on the nights that I do not take a pill it takes be about 2-3 hours to fall asleep. Last night I went to bed at 11:30 and fell asleep at about 2. I so love the luxury of going to bed, having taken a pill, and being able to fall asleep within half an hour. I wonder whether there is long term damage. (okay if you read about it in the net, they will tell you prolonged use will cook your liver and fry your brain)

One of my very best friends took sleeping pills for years. They were just the beginning of her crutch on prescription drugs. Before long she was begging people she worked with for one Vic. She even asked my mother to mail her some Perc0set (which to this day she doesn't remember). It was very sad. She eventually realized she had a problem and went to rehab where she was told by the drug counselor that sleeping pills, specifically the one she was on, are more addictive than heroin.

I take a half a pill almost every night. I will occasionally skip a night so as to fool myself into thinking I'm not addicted, but I do not sleep the night I skip. Instead I lie there panicking about my life and get up in the morning feeling like I've been hit by a train. AD's get me through the days and sleeping pills through the nights. Sigh...

some sleeping pills get you to sleep by disabling some bits of brain action (not a very scientific description, but pretty bloody accurate). they often make it hard for you to get into the deeper sleep stages so essential for restorative sleep, which rests your brain, and teaches it how to sleep properly on its own. alcohol knocks you out as well, but is a stimulant and numbs the brain so it sleeps - again stopping you getting to the good deep 'proper' sleep we all need so much.

sleeping properly is an art, and usually means you need to get yourself into a sleep-favorable lifestyle - so a pill (as in a drug) won't make that happen - sad, but true. it will only mask the issues that are stopping you sleeping. its a whole person issue, not just a quick drug fix issue.

i have had bad sleep problems all my life, and have found a herbal remedy that doesn't anaesthetise me, but helps my mind and body relax so they can get to sleep properly and soundly without drugs. really amazing. i will email you a bloody good article on sleep and its stages that helped me understand my problem better, and recommend you try the herbal blend called restEZ that i have been taking for a while - non-addictive, effective, and what an amazing way to wake up in the morning after a real, non-drug induced sleep. i can get you a bottle to try if you want to see how it works for you. let me know.

I don't necessarily take a sleeping pill... I take melatonin, the herbal equivalent. One 5 mg tablet every weeknight. I go to school full time and work 40 hours a week - I simply cannot afford to have a "bad" night or it effs me up for the rest of the week, and beyond. I try to skip it on the weekends, so I don't get dependent, but I think I might be a little.

-Katrina

That is why I never filled the script my dr gave me. It takes me over an hour to get to sleep. Then, I wake up several times a night. I've just learned to live with it.

For a while about a year and a half ago I was taking one or two every night. I was in the same boat you are - had forgotten how to fall asleep on my own. I kind of had to do the same thing that WonderSpot said above and just let myself have insomnia for a couple of nights before my own body chemistry kicked back in and I started falling asleep on my own (one thing that helped was watching TV in bed before falling asleep - gave my brain something to do until it started to just shut down.) Now I only take a sleeping pill when I travel and am in an unfamiliar bed, OR when, again like WonderSpot, it's been a couple of nights without good sleep, and then I only take one, or a half of one if I can get away with it.

The best thing is - once I relearned how to fall asleep on my own I sleep SO much better than I did on the pills.

I have taken clonazapam (Klonopin) for 4 or 5 years also. It is the only thing that has worked beautifully for my chronic insomnia/anxiety. I also feel the exact same thing; I have NO idea how to fall asleep on my own now. The kicker: I am 9 weeks pregnant, and I still take a tiny bit (quarter of a pill). I somehoe convinced myself that I would be able to kick them when the time came, but it really isn't happening. yikes

No advice from me, am terrified of sleeping pills, sedatives, anaesthesia, anything that will put me to sleep so have never tried them. I have tremendous difficulty sleeping sometimes but other times I hit the pillow and sleep without any effort. Good luck, I think you know you need to kick this one, like the ciggies and other recreationals, you know when it's time.

You know, I think you have enough on your plate that you don't need to worry about it. (That's my philosophy, anyway.)

I take the same sleeping pill you do (do you have any of the fun amnesia episodes? woo!). And I'm on a few ADs, as well. And my sleeping pill is my crutch, too.

But seriously, right now - sleep is more important to me than worrying about how I get there. When I have more time, more space in my life to tackle that issue, then I'll worry about the fact that I use them. I don't have the luxury of time to think much about them. It gets dark, I get into bed, I take them, zzzzzzz.

I saw this post on Shayne's sidebar and wanted to read more. I have Fibromyalgia and when I have a bad flare-up the doc usually prescribe them for me. A sleeping disorder is usually part of fibro and I never reach the deep sleep stage which would help to heal my sore muscles. The problem with the pills is that you also don't reach that deep sleep stage either and wake up still feeling tired. I also found that my body got so used to them that I nodded off to sleep and would be awake again after 3 hours.

A few month ago a friend suggested I start taking magnesium and calcium before bedtime. I don't want to get excited to quickly...but it seems to be working and I no longer watch the stars move through the sky...which I did before.

I never want to use sleeping tablets again...I just felt so out of control of my life when I did.

I have sleeping issues (ie if I'm not calm, perfectly peaceful, and go through my whole bedtime routine I won't fall asleep) so I've tried a bunch of different sleeping medications -- prescription, OTC, melatonin, and good ole Nyquil (cough medicine with alcohol). The prescription ones were just a couple dozen samples from my doc, and I never actually filled a prescription for the reasons you talk about, and also because I am such a hardcore insomniac that even the "controlled release" ones would put me to sleep but not keep me asleep all night.

Over the counter ones don't work at all for me -- they just make me feel drugged but somewhat hyper. I like melatonin, but after a few nights in a row, it starts working less. The only thing that always works for me is Nyquil, so when I am desperate, I take that, but that's usually only a couple of times a month. Having a shot of some kind of liquor right before bed also helps in a pinch.

But I think it's good that you're trying to get off the meds. Maybe you can stop taking them during a vacation week, or on a weekend, that way you're not stressed about the amount of sleep you end up getting?

Oh, I just wanted to second the suggestions to read before bed -- especially if it's a boring book, you'll be asleep in no time! The other thing I notice is that if I wait until I'm tired to do my bedtime routine (brush teeth, get a glass of water, etc) it wakes me back up. Maybe if you get ready for bed earlier in the evening, so that all you have to do when you're sleepy is climb into bed, that would help?

My suggestion would be to try benadryl. It is mild, non addictive, given to pregnant women (so not harmful) but definitely will help you fall asleep! May be a way to ease off prescription pills.

Good luck!

I'm a bit concerned that you are drinking wine and taking sleeping pills... that is a lot of depressants, and then you are taking anti-depressants at the same time. I know you aren't taking large quantities, but still, be careful.

I'm completely terrified of 'drugs' and barely even take a panado when I have a headache. Reading your post, just convinces me that I would so totally end up hooked if I start down the AD or sleeping pills route. When I know life is getting too much and I know the insomnia is coming I either take a muscle relaxant or I've recently discovered some anti-congestants that knock me out completely. I guess if you don't take pills almost anything will make you sleep.

I do the body relaxation thing. I start from my toes and work my way up. I used to listen to a CD (from Dr Frank Lawlis) but after the 200th repetition I didn't need it any more. The relaxation technique rarely fails me. I also try to do at least 15 minutes before bed without TV, PC etc. During that time I focus on positive happy things only.

If you are interested in something more natural you can research Melatonin and ask your doc if it's okay with your other meds. It should be. It mimics a naturally occurring enzyme to help you sleep all night. Finding it has been life changing for my husband. It's amazing that he's able to sleep all night now. Good luck to you.

I have a friend that has been on them on and off for a while. Her doctor won't let her take them long term. Not sure if it is the one she is on or what?? Anyway, she really wants to be off them, and is on antianxiety meds as well. I personally wouldn't be comfortable taking them long term and have luckily never needed them. I have nights where it is hard to sleep, but I think all moms have that from time to time. I definately would stop the computer/blackberry at least an hour before going to bed. That is just stimulating the mind rather than relaxing it. If you try on your own and can't do it, guess you have no choice but use the pill. If your doc is ok with it, which they must be if you still have a script for it??

To get off it you just need to suck it up and do it! Yes, you'll have sleepless nights at first, so what? A lot of people have sleepless nights for other reasons, they survive. This sounds like a Nike slogan, but, seriously, just do it.

I love me some benzos... but I try to only use them in "emergency" situations when I know that lack of sleep will be a major disadvantage (like camping trips with my two tiny kids, or sleeping after an all-night tango dancing junket).

I use books too... sometimes they are way too interesting and I'm up late reading them, but mostly I fall asleep pretty easily now. Also journaling is an important part of my ritual. I find that if I write down what's gone on during the day, or what I anticipate the next day, and offer myself some perspective on the big picture, in writing, I can put myself in a state of acceptance and relaxation.

This may be terrifically boring, but I am going to make a plug for two things: a spiritual practice (meaning anything that supports you in the idea that peace within yourself is always present) and the specific spiritual practice that I use: Nonviolent Communication. This is what has brought me from anxiety and self-loathing to general equanimity (although I do still blow up at my kids now and then!!).

Love you and thank you for your transparency and desire to contribute to the well-being of others.

xoxoxo

I started out taking Trazadone because, like you, my anti depressant made it so I couldn't sleep. Then after a while that wasn't enough and I added Ambien to my regime. Lovely. I loved it and I needed it. Couldn't sleep without it and I was going mental from lack of sleep so I qualified that it was worth it.

Then I wanted to get pregnant with my second child and I weaned off the anti depressants and the sleeping pills and got pregnant. So I was on them for years, most definitely needed them to sleep, and now I don't. I don't know if you call that a success story or not. My second child is now 6 months old and I still don't use them but I am a single parent and usually so goddamned tired by the time I hit the bed that I am sure that is why they aren't necessary anymore. However if I weren't breast feeding that might have been the one thing I went back to. I guess we won't know. I am not planning on going back anytime soon but reserve the right to change my mind if at some point in the future I can't sleep again because that is just WRONG!

Another vote for Benadryl - I take it every night and have for years. My doctor told me it's safe. I have chronic insomnia and have for decades. People who sleep well are always giving me advice and they can shove it... good sleep is as much an unmerited gift as easy fertility. Some of us just didn't get it, and that's the way it is.

I agree with Joy. I have chronic insomnia although I exercise, avoid caffeine and wake up at the same time every day. Well meaning people have suggested things that work for them: yoga/homeopathy/relaxation techniques, you name it. They don't do anything for me. Kind of like telling an infertile person to just relax or take a vacation in order to conceive. I love benadryl!

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can be a bummer - so be careful you guys!

It inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, and that discovery in the 60s actually triggered the research that brings you SSRIs like prozac. Combined with too many other serotonin-affecting meds (not just SSRIs) can tip the scales to serotonin syndrome.

And it causes wicked hallucinations in the elderly.

My pharmacology professor made us swear to suggest it only "in moderation."

Got prescribed sleeping pills once. They kept me wired and totally awake. Never again. You could go the alternative route and try hypnotherapy, that can help you with the anxious feelings you are having at night. You can always have a friend sit in the room for the sessions. Just a thought.

Spouse takes them daily. He's tried to quit them - but then his sleeplessness keeps us both up, and that's a disaster.

So he takes 'em. I take 'em occassionally when I just can't shut down my brain, but I'l really enough of a lightweight that two Benedryl will do me so I usually go that route if I'm having a problem. Sleep, as a general rule though, is my friend.

If you REALLY want to get off them... there are lots of tips on sleeping better ;) e.g. don't buzz around on your laptop the hour before you go to bed. It all depends what you are prepared to give up. E.g. my life will be a lot less stressful if I didn't work but I'm not prepared to live in a bachelor flat again on a single salary anymore, so, hey, I keep going. I'm sure working is much worse for our health than half a sleeping tablet, right? Melatonin is possibly an alternative - but people react so differently to it. Perhaps try it, who knows. You can have it without any worries, it is pretty much just replicating what your body makes when you go to sleep. Not sleeping is the most supercrap thing in the world, so don't feel too guilty about your little helper.

Melatonin is the way to go! I have an ADD son on Ritalin and cannot sleep at night. The paed says its 100% safe and non addictive! (and reasonably priced!) PS. When are you trying my Chardonnay girl???

I take a sleeping pill every night and have been for over 4 years now. I suffered, I mean truly SUFFERED, from insomnia for years. The daily exhaustion was having very negative effects on my life, my job and my family. At first I was concerned about becoming dependent. But who am I kidding? I am completely dependent and I don't care. I will take a sleeping pill every night for the rest of my life, which has improved so much thanks to that little pill, and I will never trade it back.

I use melatonin, usually several nights a week. I'm a registered nurse, and work in several different facilities. Being in different facilities, I end up working different shifts, sometimes 6am-2pm in one, and turn around and work 3-11 in the hospital. By the time I get home I'm very tired, yet I have a hard time unwinding...so I pop a melatonin. It helps me re-regulate my sleep schedule when I have to flip flop back and forth.

We use melatonin for residents in the long term care facility. I prefer it over having them taking trazadone, ambien, or temazepam.

I also take Ultram (tramadol) for chronic tendonitis in my foot--which has a side effect of causing insomnia, so if I take it too late in the day I'm screwed without the melatonin. My biggest problem with the over the counter sleep aids was that I ended up feeling hung over in the morning, I don't get this with the melatonin.

Sunny

my psychchiatrist told me that Ambien (don't know any other names for it, sorry) has been in use since the 70s and is non-addictive. I was on AD for about a year and needed the Ambien the whole time. I noticed that as I was was getting ready to wean off the AD, I was getting ready to wean off the Ambien, too.

I know that's probably no help, but I guess that I'm trying to say that my inability to fall asleep/stay asleep was part of my depression. Once that was getting back in order, the sleeplessness started to, too.

I hope you find an answer that works for you!

I have fibromyalgia. Along with this, I have restless legs. If I don't sleep, I start into the cycle of no sleep = increased pain = no sleep, etc. It took me a while to be convinced to take the same med you are on. When it worked, I was so happy. I actually had energy during the day.

I tried benadryl, but after a couple of nights, I start hallucinating. You can imagine how that worked with twins. We are playing with the dosage of my sleeping pill. At 10mg, I have weird episodes. Sometimes I just have amnesia, others, I do whatever was on my mind before I fell asleep. So far, I have paid bills (causing massive financial issues), lost a girl scout book, shaved my legs, and cooked. I view my sleep issues just like I do my depression. Sure, I may be on this drug for the rest of my life. That's ok, as I have a medical reason that makes me HAVE to have the sleep. Ironically, with the sleep, I need lower doses of AD's, and even managed to get off one of them. I also need less anti-anxiety meds. Am I addicted? Probably. Do I care? Not at all.

just joined that club about two months ago. Mine are "over the counter" so I don't feel too guilty - but I suppose it's all the same, really.

With out them - I do not sleep (stress) and the next day is ruined - what with being tired, cranky, moody, unable to concentrate...

I try to only take them on week nights, but if I have something important on a weekend then I will take a pill as well. My quality of life is 100% better than before I started taking them. I am a better (and nicer!) person with sleep.

Told my shrink about them - she didn't seem overly alarmed. I am the one who needs to get over it!

xo and good luck...

Hope this isn't too late, but I have a tip: I was never a good sleeper, it got worse at uni and then again after babies, and I'd been taking sleeping pills (prescription, over counter & Night Nurse - sometimes all together!!) for 15 years.

I've been off them since September with the help of a fab book: "Say Goodnight to Insomnia" by Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs. It takes effort to see through the programme, but it's well worth it. I'd highly recommend. I didn't feel like an addict but I just didn't feel healthy either, and I hated the horrible hangover every morning. Haven't felt so good in years! Good luck.

I was given a sleeping pill while in the hospital and was amazed at how quickly I got to sleep, yet woke up clear-headed in the morning. I'm sure I could quickly get addicted to the stuff. I had a ruptured disc in my back a few years ago, and after the surgery the doctor prescribed a muscle relaxant and a narcotic pain pill. I took them right before bed and loved that delicious feeling of being dragged down into sleep. I think I was taking them less for the pain and more as a sleeping pill. I only had one bottle of each, about a month's worth, and I still miss that feeling five years later. So I'm thinking I'd better NEVER get a prescription for sleeping pills, because I'd probably never go off them.

While I voted never, I have had one once. Shortly after my son's birth when they weren't sure if he would live through the night, which he did I was given a sleeping pill to take when I got home. Like Tertia, against my better judgement I took it. When I woke up, I felt so terrible and not myself that I vowed no matter what insomnia I may suffer I wouldn't take one again.

I take half a dose of Tylenol PM every night. I started with it when I was pregnant and woke up with carpal tunnel spasms and couldn't get back to sleep without it - and even with a full dose I couldn't stay asleep through the pain. After baby was born and I was nursing I cut back to the half dose as I found it sooo much easier to get back to sleep after a nighttime feeding - none of that tossing and turning and stressing over how little sleep I was getting! Maybe I could sleep without it but I've yet to feel like it was important enough to risk not getting a good night sleep. And my dr has zero problem with it so why should I? XOXOXO Tertia - Max is a darling!!!

So interesting. Glad you posted this. I had a horrible insomnia incident a little over a year ago, and have taken some kind of sleeping pill almost every night since then. And no matter what kind of personality you have, all sleep medication is psychologically addictive. You worry that you won't sleep without it, and then because you're worried, you don't sleep. Recently, after experiencing a bout of depression, I've decided to wean off them. (Depression is a side effect of many sleeping pills.) I'm working really hard at meditation, and trying to meditate each night before bed. Plus, if I can't sleep, I get up and meditate again. I'm not all the way there yet, but I think it's starting to work. I do think the biggest key is realizing that it's not the end of the world if you don't sleep, which is hard to remember when you get that panicky feeling in the middle of the night.

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