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Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Postby bananasinorbit » Jan 02, 2013 2:02 pm

I have been dependent on sleep meds for around 2 years now (I spent one year taking Ambien every night, three harrowing weeks sleeping 0-2 hours every night when Ambien stopped working, and now another year taking the max dose of Lunesta every night). Before meds, I had insomnia off and on since age 15. Most recently before starting taking Ambien, I had probably not with getting asleep but with staying asleep--during bad periods I would wake up after only four hours most nights in a week and feel terrible.

I really want to stop taking sleep meds, or at least stop taking them every night. However, (predictably) it is now even harder for me to sleep without meds than it was before and I really cannot handle sustained insomnia. I've tried a lot of natural remedies--chamomile, valerian, melatonin, combos of various things over the counter--but I haven't had any luck with them (especially for staying asleep rather than getting to sleep). I've also tried things like taking baths, getting exercise during the day, avoiding screens for an hour before bed, etc., which I sometimes think make a slight difference but usually not much. I'm trying to make a plan for moving away from the Lunesta and I'm wondering if people have recommendations, resources, or experiences to share. Now that I'm in this position of sleep med dependency, is there a way to get out of it?
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Re: Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Postby bananasinorbit » Jan 07, 2013 10:27 am

Just bumping this up--would still love to see people's thoughts (or links to other threads if I've missed them). Thanks!
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Re: Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Postby maamyyrä » Jan 07, 2013 10:51 am

i didn't ever feel addicted so i can offer only general thoughts.

that sleeping is worse than before you started the drugs is absolutely normal.

i wonder if you have heard of restricted sleeping? the method usually requires help. i would never be able to do it. it also requires that you have the time to be really not very functional for a while.
the body needs sleep. so eventually it WILL fall asleep.
this is why in this method sleep is restricted. if it's very bad, you are only allowed to go to bed like 5am and sleep until 8am. the rest of the time you are not allowed to lie down or anything.
people usually fall asleep the second night.
once you sleep the full three hours, you gradually add an hour. like - you go to bed at 4am instead of 5am. you keep that for two or three days, or until you sleep the whole time.
this is done until there are like 7 hours of sleep.
if there is any problem to fall asleep or sleep the whole time, you go back down. if you cannot sleep from 1am to 8am once you've reached that point, you go to bed 2 am etc.

this method requires a lot of desperation. feeling horrible and tired is part of the deal, i guess. but the point is that eventually our bodies do sleep, and two or three hours of really good sleep are a lot better than seven hours of lying half awake in bed. also, the method is teaches the body a regular rhythm. in combination with all the other advice like not doing anything in bed except sleeping and sex (do get up and sit in a chair quietly for a while, then try again) this can be a great signal for the body.

if you wanted to try, you could start right away, and keep this sleep regimen during slow taper.
silverelf is currently tapering benzos successfully at a very slow rate. i think that sounds interesting for sleep drug taper, too, if taper is difficult.

i wouldn't throw the other things (hot bath, hot milk, exercise) out of the window either. it is all a matter of conditioning. and for me it is combining more than one thing. being outside, even without exercising, is good because natural light enhances the circadian rhythm regulation. (exercise shortly before going to bed makes sleeping more difficult for me, but regular mild exercise during the day is probably good for everything.)

see if you can find good resources on the restricted sleeping. addiction to sleeping drugs sounds really awful. i've never heard long-term use being recommended as the drugs fuck up sleeping cycles and worsen the problem.

hope this gives you ideas. hope people with more experience post.

i didn't ever feel addicted so i can offer only general thoughts.

that sleeping is worse than before you started the drugs is absolutely normal.

i wonder if you have heard of restricted sleeping? the method usually requires help. i would never be able to do it. it also requires that you have the time to be really not very functional for a while.
the body needs sleep. so eventually it WILL fall asleep.
this is why in this method sleep is restricted. if it's very bad, you are only allowed to go to bed like 5am and sleep until 8am. the rest of the time you are not allowed to lie down or anything.
people usually fall asleep the second night.
once you sleep the full three hours, you gradually add an hour. like - you go to bed at 4am instead of 5am. you keep that for two or three days, or until you sleep the whole time.
this is done until there are like 7 hours of sleep.
if there is any problem to fall asleep or sleep the whole time, you go back down. if you cannot sleep from 1am to 8am once you've reached that point, you go to bed 2 am etc.
it is important to always go to bed at exactly the same time, and get up at exactly the same time (no matter how tired or horrible you feel) so the circadian rhythm adjusts.

this method requires a lot of desperation. feeling horrible and tired is part of the deal, i guess. but the point is that eventually our bodies do sleep, and two or three hours of really good sleep are a lot better than seven hours of lying half awake in bed. also, the method is teaches the body a regular rhythm. in combination with all the other advice like not doing anything in bed except sleeping and sex (do get up and sit in a chair quietly for a while, then try again) this can be a great signal for the body.

if you wanted to try, you could start right away, and keep this sleep regimen during slow taper.
silverelf is currently tapering benzos successfully at a very slow rate. i think that sounds interesting for sleep drug taper, too, if taper is difficult.

i wouldn't throw the other things (hot bath, hot milk, exercise) out of the window either. it is all a matter of conditioning. and for me it is combining more than one thing. (exercise shortly before going to bed makes sleeping more difficult for me, but regular mild exercise during the day is probably good for everything.)

see if you can find good resources on the restricted sleeping. addiction to sleeping drugs sounds really awful. i've never heard long-term use being recommended as the drugs fuck up sleeping cycles and worsen the problem.

hope this gives you ideas. hope people with more experience post.


http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sle ... estriction

other than in this article
http://www.talkaboutsleep.com/circadian ... -works.htm
it is not just a last resort thing. people with sleeping problems should look into it.
you can't make grass grow more quickly by pulling on it
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Re: Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Postby ObjectsInMirrors » Jan 07, 2013 11:44 am

All I can say about coming off sleep meds is probably good to do it slowly. I was only on Ambien for about 3 weeks when it stopped working and also I was getting loopy when I first took it. I stopped the meds cold turkey and had a week of hell with sleep- waking up 15 times a night and horrendous nightmares and sleep paralysis. I wonder if there are any alternatives you can explore for sleep- perhaps acupuncture, reiki, or hypnosis could help. It sounds like you're in a horrible predicament- let us know if anything works.
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Re: Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Postby anut32002 » Sep 14, 2013 10:31 am

Hello, I now have been taking ambien for about 6 months. When they started me on it it was only 5 mg. It replaced my Seroquel. Which made me sleep for 10 hours and feel droggy most of the day. The 5 mg was not enough to help with premenapause and my bipolar. I now take 20mg a night. I sleep 8 hours a night. I cant live without it. It has changed my life. I feel like I have to take it. Goodluck if you try and get off of it.
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Re: Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Postby ObjectsInMirrors » Oct 08, 2013 11:22 pm

anut- just so you know- ambien is not supposed to be prescribed at rates of higher than 10mg a night. the reason you need more and more is because when you take it every day your body becomes dependent on it- just like if you are an alcoholic and develop higher and higher tolerance to alcohol levels.
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Re: Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Postby streetwisehercules » May 03, 2015 4:49 pm

Has anyone tried this Nightwave device? I'm thinking about though it is a tad expensive for something that might turn out to be useless:

http://www.nightwave.co.uk/

Also I've been reading a lot about magnesium for help sleeping so I've ordered some of that though there's lots of different varieties so not sure which is best.
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Re: Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Postby _ » May 03, 2015 5:13 pm

Yeah I agree Streetwise. Seems a bit dubious. One thing I've heard from numerous people is saturated fats in the evening is helpful. Of course any kind of lights are sometimes problematic but especially back lit screens such as tvs and computers. I've heard some people say that the only way they can get to sleep is with blackout blinds that make their bed rooms pitch black. Anyways, thought I'd mention my personal favorite thing which is FLUX. Reduces blue light and dims your computer screen. Blue light supposedly preventing your body's melatonin production. Of course exercise is good when you can. Anyways, here it is if you're interested.. It's seemed to have helped my wife a great deal with sleep and I've heard others say the same but I don't think everyone has the same result. I think it's helped me a bit but probably not as significantly as her.

https://justgetflux.com/

PS: One thing that was recommended to me which was actually really helpful was baked potatoes and eating the skin as well of course. WIth that part being the most beneficial apparently In the sleep area.
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Re: Advice for coming off sleep meds?

Postby Cat_Named_Easter » May 03, 2015 10:35 pm

I second FLUX just as a great program in general.

200-400 mg magnesium doesn't necessarily make me sleepy, but it does improve my sleep architecture. Hot bath with epsom salts, same principle.
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