A fellow Villager staff member, Brit, recently wrote an article about insomnia. I decided to write a follow up because I suffer from chronic insomnia and both onset and maintenance insomnia. I usually get around 4-5 hours of sleep on average every night of the week. It takes me around anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours to fall asleep, and I wake up around 2 to 6 times a night. While you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, “What? How do you function everyday?!” I mean, I tried those relaxing techniques and all that jazz, as Brit had mentioned in her piece, but those things just didnt’t work, to be honest. It might work for other people, but for me, the relaxation techniques didn’t. So, I turned to sleeping medications. First, it was Benadryl and melatonin tablets, both of which didn’t have a significant effect. I then went to my psychiatrist and told her what was going on and she immediately started me on antidepressants like Trazodone and Mirtazapine, which work essentially as sedatives in order to help me sleep.
Trazodone is an antidepressant which allows the production of more serotonin. Taken at higher doses, it also works as a sedative, which allows for off- label use for conditions such as insomnia. Mirtazapine is another type of antidepressant which is also used as a sedative. Antidepressants aren’t the only medications I’ve tried. I’ve also tried Vistaril which is an antihistamine for which you have to have a prescription. In my experience, it isn’t true that doctors usually don’t prescribe medication for chronic insomnia. What they probably won’t prescribe is a controlled substance, such as any medication from the drug class “Benzodiazepines,” because those can lead to abuse and withdrawal.
But in many cases, medication is the right way to go when all else fails. Insomnia is a difficult condition to live with and makes life unbearable at times. Many people worldwide suffer from insomnia; it’s not all that uncommon. Insomnia is often misunderstood as a condition in which people stay awake for days at a time and sometimes it is, but often that’s not the case. Insomnia is something I struggle with along with millions of other people. It’s difficult, but there are treatments we can seek out for help.