My Insomnia – In Depth..

Where to start.  Let’s go back to when it all began.

After I had my snowboarding accident I had random nights where I wouldn’t sleep.  I couldn’t get to sleep or even want to sleep.  This then stopped and sleep went back to normal.  Then about 15 years ago I was not expecting what was going to happen.  I started a 2 day period of no sleep whatsoever.  This was when I was the Director of Network Operations for a dot com startup and was already working 70-90 hours a week and needed the little sleep I was used to getting.

This small 2 day stint turned into 3, then into 4 and by 5 I had to call out of work.  My father took me to the ER where I was prescribed sedatives to help me sleep temporarily until I could be seen by a sleep specialist that they suggested in Manhattan.

So the 10 day sedative prescription for Clonazepam (Klonopin) – 1mg at night – was finished just in time for the next weekend sleep study at NY Presbyterian in the city.

I had an entrance interview, a bunch of written tests, an MRI and CT scan of my head and nothing at all was found to be wrong.  So of course then the first night I was put into a room and told to fall asleep with any device I deemed necessary so I asked for a TV and to keep my pre-Ipod mp3 player with me.  I had already loaded up my pre-ipod with sleep music and relaxing sounds like classical music and ambient sounds of nature like streams, rain, rain forests, etc.

The first night I didn’t sleep at all, as I expected.  The second night came along and they strapped me up like you see in all the movies.  Full headgear with all the wires and leads that connect to your face, head, pads to monitor your heart, pulse-ox on my finger to measure my blood oxygenation, the works.

After this, they sent me home for the week to work with yet another this time 7 day prescription for the same medication, klonopin to get me through the week while they compiled their data on me.

Next weekend, I went back to NYP and had a meeting with a few doctors who asked me further questions not already answered by the bazillion papers of paperwork I did or the tests they did on me.  They then threw out this term.  As someone who is new to this and my dad, a physician in his own right, also had no idea what it was, they said 4 little letters: DSPD.  DSPD, Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder.

DSPD is a circadian rhythm problem usually caused by either day/night reversal, not enough of either, not enough sun or vitamin D in your system, etc, you can look it up as I know too much about it to list here.

Many recommendations were made and to this day I stick to them all.  The main problem with DSPD is the inability to fall asleep.  Once asleep you can sleep but getting there is the issue.

Some of the recommendations were adding external Vitamin D supplements, Magnesium Oil, OmegaBrite Omega Fish oil and ample sunshine besides the medications we were to try in the coming weeks and months.  To list a few, here is a list of medications we tried and the successes with each:

  • Temazepam (Restoril) – 60mg – or as they called it, “a controlled overdose”.  I slept very well with this medication but how long can you remain on a benzodiazepine at this strength? I was on it for about 8 months until the next
  • Oxazepam (Serax) – I don’t remember the dose as it didn’t last long.  After I read about it and read it was a “class b carcinogen” I demanded we stop it.
  • Diazepam (Valium) – It got to the point where the next day I would be a zombie from the dose they had to put me on to just get me to sleep.
  • Lorazepam (Ativan) – It turned out this drug had to be used in conjunction with a second drug because of how short acting it was so we decided that 2 drugs was just too much.
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin) – ding ding ding ding.  1mg and then finally 2mg.  At this standard dose, and for the length of time Klonopin is in your system, I had a solution. Something that would work for a long time.

There were others that I skipped because I didn’t remember their names other than Ambien, Rozeram and Lunesta which were used once and then discarded.

Now, let’s roll forward 14 years.  It seems my body has gotten used to klonopin at 2mg a night. After not hearing from me for years, some of the doctors at NYP who remember my case suggested adding a third 1mg in the am just to put more into my system overall versus 3mg at night – which I wouldn’t have done anyways.  We tried it for a small amount of time and it worked but again, I didn’t want to do it this way.  This is when I started some of the other ways people get to sleep that I hadn’t already tried (I tried benadryl at over 1000mgs with them as well as a test, that was a total failure and all it did was make my nose dry as hell).  I soon found relief with Costco Brand generic Unisom (Kirkland Doxylamine Succinate).  1 Pill seemed to work with the 2mg of Klonopin and then 1.5 pills seemed to work flawlessly.

Now I’m at the point where 1.5 pills is hit or miss depending how much work I did or didn’t do that day.  As a director I don’t do much hard work more paper work and directing people as opposed to installing equipment and the other back breaking work I used to do. So if it was an all paper day, I really didn’t exert myself and my sleep would be eh that night.  One of NYP’s suggestions was to have a full spectrum table lamp at work and at home so you get the sun’s rays.  It’s important to have these rays because these rays work with Vitamin D in your body to synthesize natural melatonin in your body.  This way you can find an easier way to fall asleep without any OTHER drugs in your system.

All of my troubles lately started 4.5 months ago when I was forced to stop smoking pot to get me to sleep.  Out of all the things I’ve tried, one small hit of marijuana at night would knock me right out, in under a half hour.  But with drug tests at both work and pain management, I can’t do that anymore, so I had to cut it out completely.

CBD has never helped me sleep ever.  I hear about it helping other insomniacs but even when I take a double dose at night I don’t feel any more tired than when I didn’t take it so I stopped wasting it.

I bought myself a natural blend called Valerian Root Sleep Aid from CVS and found myself asleep within 1 hour as long as I took it with the Magnesium Oil at the same time before bed.  So I respond well to valerian root it seems.

Today, during lunch I had a meet and greet with a neuropsychiatrist who is a sleep specialist on the island.  We went over the length of my case in a 1 hour appt and he immediately did what most people try and do – medicate the problem away.  He prescribed something called Remeron at a medium dosage.  Remeron is apparently known to make people very sleepy and hoped that with the current drug regimen that it would work, without the generic Unisom that is.

So this is where I stand.  Ready to start Remeron tonight with hopes that I will get a good night’s sleep and able to function tomorrow unlike the last few days on Ambien feeling like a zombie all day long.

Now that you know my story about insomnia, what’s yours? Is mine like yours? Do you have any suggestions for me? Do I have anything you can use?

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