To get a better understanding of my insomnia, please read The Insomnia Chronicles: Origin. When I explain to people that I suffer from insomnia and that it is not uncommon for me to have several nights in a week where I sleep less than 3 hours of sleep, the typical response is “You should take a sleeping pill.” This isn’t surprising. In Insomnia Chronicles #2: To Drug or not To Drug, I will talk about these frustrations and some reasons why it might be smarter to exhaust all natural remedies before going to Ambien and other drugs.
We are taught today in our “sickcare” industry that medications are essentially the ONLY way to treat any malady. Big Pharma runs drug commercials ad nauseum inculcating into our psyche that we should take __________ (insert drug) for ____________ (insert malady). Most people know what they are taught and we are in a milieu where we are taught by the media to treat diseases with drugs. It has become almost instinctual to respond this way.
I tell my mother, family, loved ones, and friends about the insomnia. Most are sympathetic at first, but eventually “compassion fatigue” kicks in. It is human nature. They just start tuning you out and want to change the subject. This process is even more accelerated when they have given you the perfunctory Big Pharma-propagandized advice to take Ambien, Soma, Lunesta, or whatever other drug of which they have heard. If you express hesitation about taking pharmaceuticals and that perhaps you will take a nutraceutical or herbal remedy to treat the disease, their compassion essentially ends.
I’ve always wondered why that is? Why do people assume that any treatment other than pharmaceutical is a useless endeavor? Is it because nutraceuticals and natural remedy companies don’t blast commercials ad infinitum from our TV screens? It is because Big Pharma and Big Medicine have done such a great job subtly excoriating and lampooning natural remedies and botanical science to the point where the masses have subconsciously rejected them?
As you all know, Kate and I partly created this site to promote natural remedies. In its nascent form, it has morphed more into a site identifying and condemning toxins in our food/house and promoting clean eating. But in its essence, as seen in the Mission Statement, we endorse the utter exhaustion of all alternative and holistic forms of treatment for any malady prior to the use of pharmaceutical drugs. So when time came for me personally to have to make that choice, why would I not stick to my own beliefs?
To be clear, I have not taken any sedatives for my insomnia spells. Aside from Benadryl one time and my daily usage of Magnesium supplements, I have not orally taken any sleep aides until recently. To be clear, I don’t want to take any prescription sleep aides. But the point is coming where the temptation has become greater. Why? The herbal remedies given to me by my naturopath has so far not been effective. Neither has CBD Oil. (Granted, it has only been one week). Also, the inexorable pressure by family, friends, and media to impel me to at least try the Big Pharma drugs is wearing down my resistance. I resist as much as I can, but at what point does my pride end up hurting my long-term goal of defeating my insomnia?
For some rudimentary groundwork, most sleep medications are in the category of benzodiazepines, most commonly used for anxiety. The most famous “Benzos” are Xanax and Ativan. The newer generation of sleep medications are in a different category, but act on the body in the same way as the Benzos. These would include Ambien, Lunesta, and Soma. (There is some irony with Soma, since it is the drug given to the masses to keep them docile in Huxley’s novel Brave New World.)
Well I wanted to give some points as to why I have shirked prescription drugs for the last 3 years. Some you might be able to relate to. Others might surprise you. Others you won’t get at all unless you’re a neurotic.
Have You Seen the Official Side-Effects?
The official side-effects of these drugs is quite frightening. Here are a few:
- Tingling in arm and legs
- Difficulty maintaining your balance
- Dry Mouth
- Daytime Drowsiness
- Stomach Ulcers
Being drowsy is bad, but not as bad as some of these. And these aforementioned are the most benign!
Perhaps the most disconcerting is parasomnia, or the involuntary movements of the body. Perhaps most famous are the alarming side-effects of Ambien, in which people sleep walk, have conversations, have sex with, or even drive a car without any recollection of it. People have literally have awakened on the side of the road not remembering how they got there. People have used the “Ambien defense” when they have been accused of murdering people while on the medications.
Sleep Drugs Are Habit-Forming
Sleep drugs are addictive. No question about it. Benzos have been known for decades to be habit-forming. If you are incredulous, read the insert. It warns that you should never quite these meds cold turkey. If you do, your body literally goes through withdrawal.
The Benzos, incidentally, are the drug of choice at high schools and colleges to be used recreationally. The sedative hypnotics do relax you but it comes with a price. Similar to the opiod epidemic in this country, Benzos are only 2nd to them in terms of addiction. Again, your doctor doesn’t tell you about this when you start taking them.
The Tolerance Issue
Sleep medications’ (and Benzos in general) efficacy in making you sleepy wear off after time. Because of this, people tend to increase their dosage without doctor’s permission if they feel that it is not working. This increasing of the dosage, along with the habit-forming elements of it, make people fall down the rabbit-hold of addiction much easier.
Increased Risk of Suicide
The Huffington Post reported on an American Psychiatric Association study discussing the increase risk of suicide when taking sleep medications. Whether or not the increase is due to suicidal people having sleep issues or the other way around remains to be seen, but still this is something you need to know. Click Here to see Huffington article.
With Alcohol They Are Deadly
Many people take Benzos with alcohol since both are depressants and sedative. The problem is that combining these two can lead to liver damage and overdose. Have you heard of most celebrities, like Heath Ledger, who were found on Benzos mixed with alcohol. It is a lethal combo.
Sleep Drugs Give You 7% More Sleep
Studies conducted have shown that the aforementioned drugs, despite their crazy side-effects only on average allow you seven (7) more minutes of sleep. So why take them when they have so many side-effects in this is all you get from them?
Now I will tell people about the issues with these drugs and why I’m hesitant to take them b/c of it, especially since they are not that effective, but most of them either don’t believe me or are dumb-founded. They are so programmed to think that this is the only way to treat insomnia and as such, you just have to suck up the frightening side-effects if you want to be “cured.”
What’s my takeaway in Insomnia Chronicles #2: To Drug or not To Drug, as I mentioned people around me only have sympathy if I am being treated by these drugs. If not, they simply think I deserve this since “I don’t want to be treated.” It is quite frustrating and saddens my heart. But if you look at the research, if you look at the pros and cons, perhaps it is better to pursue a naturopathic way to treat the insomnia. If you post this question in a natural remedies forum, you will get scores of responses.
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