Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I have trouble getting to sleep. I have had this problem for years. It was never a problem until my new neighbors moved into the apartment behind mine and then began having sex at all hours of the night and morning. There is nothing worse than awakening from a decent sleep to the sound of a dog whimpering in heat. The situation changed as I began living with someone. She could fall asleep in minutes while it took me sometimes up to an hour. Of course, she snored. It was hard to sleep with an outboard motor next to me so I would simply escape to the relative silence of the couch with the nearby aquariums. I tried numerous things to help me get to sleep faster, here are the results.

Over-the-counter sleep aids do not work very well with me. Most are just a double dose of Benadryl (diphenhydramine). If it did work, great. If it did not or I was awakened during the night I would spend hours in a haze.

I tried herbal supplements like melatonin and Valerian root. Neither supplement helped me get to sleep. The valerian sometimes had the same effect the diphenhydramine would have. I tried Valerian in capsule form and in Sleepy Time Extra tea. I also tried zinc supplements via tablets and also through ZMA. There were no long term effects.

I tried limiting and eliminating caffeine. That would make a short term difference but nothing would happen long term (more than a couple days). Caffeine intake did not affect how long it took to get to sleep. I also tried varying my exercise and as with the caffeine, no long term changes.

I tried turkey, eating a banana, and drinking a protein shake. None of them worked.

I tried reading before bed and that did not work.

I tried different pillows including full sized, wheat husk and memory foam but there was really no change.

I tried laying flat on my back on a hard floor. I tried cooling my wrists under running water.

There was only one thing that seemed to have benefit: background noise. I had a noisy desk fan I would use to provide background noise. My girlfriend at that time hated that fan. There were times where the fan would be louder than normal or would make squeaking noises as it got older. I would have to take it apart and clean in. My current love of my life has a white noise generator that we use on the “night” setting to get a constant sound of crickets in a field or something like that.

My fiancee also has problems getting to sleep. She has taken Ambien (Zolpidem), Lunesta (Eszopiclone) and ?. She had a prescription for the Ambien and samples of the Lunesta and suggested that I try both and see what happens.

Both drugs were very effective. I could get to sleep regardless of noise from snoring or a television. I stayed asleep, and was able to awaken in time for work.

The Ambien was too effective. Apparently I received an alert on my work phone at around three in the morning, got up, acknowledged the message and then went back to sleep. I do not remember that ever taking place. Once on Ambien I could not get off Ambien without having a really bad night or two or five. Since I was borrowing from my fiancee's prescription and not remembering alerts from work I had to take the Ambien off my list.

The Lunesta was not addictive and I was able to leave the drug, have trouble falling asleep as usual, but still get sleep. The Lunesta left an awful taste in my mouth but I prefer sleep over funny tasting water any night. At this time, there is no generic equivalent for Lunesta.

I went to my physician and had him write a prescription for the Lunesta. I have been taking the Lunesta for a week now in half doses (cutting the pill in half). Sleep has been more than adequate so the drug is doing the job I am asking it to do. Eventually, I want to only use the drug from time to time when I need it (usually Sunday nights). Our feline inhabitants have slightly altered sleeping arrangements in the Grouchy household so the couch and spare bedroom are not realistic options. Eventually the spare bedroom will be available but until then I will probably continue taking the Lunesta when I feel I will need to.

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