I will not get too happy or optimistic, lest the universe decides I need one more hard smackdown in the lovely year 2020, but I think there might be a solution, sort of.
As mentioned before, I am using a lavender pill along with doxylamine. This was showing signs of being helpful in my quest to sleep like a normal human being. A few more weeks have passed, and it seems that it really is helpful. Before that, it was 10 mg of melatonin and 25 mg of doxylamine. It was taking a long time to sleep. I was not sleeping long at all. That much melatonin is a lot, way more than should be necessary on its own. By itself, it does nothing. It used to work well, not sure what has changed, but I am on to something new. The question is: how long will it work?
Taking doxylamine is not recommended for long-term use, but what choice is there?
The time it takes to fall asleep is increasing a bit but less than an hour and typically still under 30 minutes. That is the good news, for now. It is very possible that at some point, sooner or later, it will stop working altogether, and the search for something else starts over. We will see. It is not all roses; there are a few side-effects to this combination, but worth it so far.
It is still difficult to put myself in a state to want to sleep or even remember that I should go to bed. I often lose track of time in the evening and finally get ready for sleep around 3 or 4 am.
The main side-effect is crazy dreams that affect my mood and sometimes anxiety. Luckily, I don’t remember most of them, especially the ones where I wake very anxious with my heart pounding, and it is difficult to breathe. Luckily and strangely, I am back asleep within 10-15 minutes, and it is not great to wake up like that. Sometimes I have a dream of one or more specific people: strange dreams where I wake up extremely angry at that person. Even if it is someone I have never been mad at before. I stay mad all day long; it is so bizarre.
I know that it is not real - obviously - and the person did not do whatever horrible thing I dreamt about - very obvious - and they would never do such a thing - super obviously.
The strangest is a dream about my oldest daughter, myself, and her husband and kids are out in the woods somewhere, and a snake attacks my youngest grandchild and starts to eat him. I yell at my daughter, she just shrugs. I wake up from that steaming mad at her, and it sticks for a while. I message her and tell her I am angry - she asks why and then laughs. There is no deep meaning to it. She is an attentive and extremely conscientious mom. In a way, it is funny even though it is disturbing. The dream of my daughter is not new. I think I have had that three times. The most common are the ones I wake up super anxious about. So strange. Is it the sleep supplements, or is it just my mental health issues and my brain seemingly changing in how it reacts to certain things? I really have no idea.
I am not sure the dreams hurt my sleep all that much the big issue is falling asleep. It is certainly not the fault of the subjects of my crazy dreams.
I have tried lots of over-the-counter sleep aids in the past - but the rest of them are new. I think it could be the sleep aid combination and not just the lavender pills. I don’t know for sure. It could be certain things that are triggering old scars in my mind or both. Before I started the lavender pills, I did not have dreams except for the one about the snake, and that was just once.
The lavender pills are supposed to be taken twice a day and are mainly for anxiety. Waking up anxious might be a paradoxical side-effect if it is this that is causing it. My oldest sister says it works well but takes a few weeks. I tried twice a day for a few days, but anxiety while awake isn’t an issue lately. It causes very mild gas to come back up into the throat, and that lavender taste is not that pleasant. I am typically asleep before that becomes an issue.
I may be sleeping too much, and that is causing issues? Sleeping too much is a rare phenomenon. Heck, sleeping 8 hours is exceedingly rare. It is not the same thing that happens when my mind is so exhausted that I literally can’t get up. That is pretty rare - I have talked about it before - the last time it happened was last spring, and the time before that was two summers ago. This is physical exhaustion. Some of my sisters think I am catching up on decades of lost sleep. I am not sure that is a thing. I fight sleeping too much, and too much is falling asleep at 5 am and waking at 2 pm. Okay, that is not really oversleeping, but a few times, it is more like sleeping from 1am to noon. I fight my apparent need to sleep past 9, regardless of when I fall asleep. It is an odd thing. I don’t have to answer to anyone for anything, so what does it matter? The idea still bothers me a lot.
I know that it does not matter if I sleep 24 hours a day or don’t sleep at all. That is kind of a depressing thought, but I am not really depressed. I am more active, working on more projects in a day than I have been on a previous day in the past year. If I were, I would not be working on so many things. I have two programming projects being worked on. Also, learning two programming languages unrelated to my projects and have three minor projects around the house, doing PT, stretches, and exercises. There are currently five articles being written for this stupid site. Most will probably not get finished due to not sure if they are proper for this improper website. I am also reading two books. I should be able to sleep at a decent hour, and yet, I am typing this at 5:24 am. I lose track of time and forget to do basic things like eat - which is a good thing in my case - who forgets to eat?
Last Saturday, I woke up around noon and lost track of time, I know I did things that day, but I couldn’t tell you what. I do know I finally noticed the time Sunday morning around 4 am. I decided to stay up until Sunday evening in the hopes of resetting my obviously messed-up internal clock. By 830 am, I was asleep! That should have been great, but by 10, I was awake in a panic, and this time it must have taken about an hour to fall back asleep. I wake around 2 am and then 5 am and finally wake up for the day at 11. That is still a lot of sleep, and it did make me feel good. Did it reset my internal clock? Well, I fell asleep the next night around 5 am, and it is now 5:32 am. So that is a no.
One thing that keeps me from laying down is that often my heart starts pounding when I lay down. I don’t know if that is a medical issue, probably just anxiety. I am not seeing doctors anymore outside of optical, dental, and for emergencies when I crash my bike and shatter my left shoulder and ribs. I am just dealing with things as they come, and if it is something serious, well, in my estimation, that is a good thing and not worth getting medical help. One of the issues is that I wake in an empty house and fall asleep in an empty house. Day after day after day, only broken up by babysitting my granddaughter once or twice every two weeks and my weekly visit to the physical therapist. Other than that, silence all day. I think it may be untethering myself from the world, or something. I feel very detached from everything, even things that should bother me a lot do not - not really. Things are going on - actually not going on - that are very confusing and upsetting but feels like there is a thick, opaque glass between myself and the sad feelings. Does that make sense?
Sleeping ‘too much’ really bothers me, to the point it is also causing issues in my mind, so I tried to see if I could limit my time asleep but still maybe get 6 hours. As a test, I cut the doxylamine pill in half and took the lavender pill. That didn’t work so well. It took over an hour to fall asleep and didn’t sleep for more than 4 hours. So, it is almost like choosing between too much and too little sleep.
The good news is that when I wake, I feel good and continue to feel good through the day, and have decent mental and physical energy. Maybe I should shelve all my projects and plans for 5-7 days and just tell myself it is okay to sleep as much as I can each day. Next week, starting on Sunday, I could actually do that. I don’t know if I could get myself to do that. Aim for 16 hours of sleep every day for that short time. That seems so slothful.
Another idea is that since I am up most of the night, and I always sleep better, significantly so, during the day that I could become a night creature. In a lot of ways, I always have been, and it kind of fits my personality to spend most of my waking time in a dark dungeon. I could still fish, just in the very early morning. There would be enough time to ride my bike and get yard work done. The only impediment is my PT appointments, but I think that will end within 4 weeks and, of course, babysitting. It is something to consider.
Without sleep supplements, I sleep a few hours once every few days. I wish so much that I could sleep like a human - it seems I really am not one - without sleep aids. Maybe I need anesthesia to sleep or just be put in a medical coma for a year. Okay, not really viable solutions, but it sounds good. There are other solutions available to me. I live in a state when recreational marijuana is legal, so it is as easy to get as walking into a store. It is not something I know anything about, and I would not want to smoke any of it, but there are lots of other forms that it is sold in. Supposedly, I could see a doctor outside the VA and get a medical marijuana form signed that allows medical-grade weed. That is taxed far less than the recreational and is produced against pretty strict standards. Either way, it is pretty expensive. I looked up a store near me online. A tincture with 20 doses of 5 mg of CBT and 1 mg of THC is like $50 for recreational uses. Is that enough? Who knows? Someone I talked to on an MH website said with psychosis, little to no THC is best, and they think something like that might help relax me enough to help me sleep. That is roughly $75 a month, I could afford it, but I don’t know. It is something I will keep in mind.
There are other possible solutions in the health store that are not well-tested, have no real production standards. It is probably nothing but snake oil. When I get tired enough, snake oil sounds worth trying.
The last option is prescription meds. They are scary. I am not sure my doctor would let me try them, assuming I can get myself to want to see her. About 10 years ago, my youngest daughter took Ambien that her doctor gave her to help her get on a sleep routine. She told me she was taking it and said goodnight. Two hours later, she comes into the living room and starts acting oddly, which is the best way to describe it. I talked to her and could tell something is seriously wrong. She started getting excited and agitated at the same time and talking oddly and very quickly. It got to the point I was getting worried and asked her if she wanted to go in to be seen. After some prodding, I get her in the car, and she is in the back seat freaking out. I think she was hallucinating. We get to the hospital and walk in, and I ask that she gets seen. She was 18, so they ask her to sign the papers, and she refuses and runs back out. I spent the next two!!! hours following her around the parking lot and buildings. Attempting to talk her back in. She gets close to some picnic tables in the back of the hospital, and she slows down and was hoping she would sit. I took her arm to guide her to the tables, and she flips me over on the pavement. I had about 100 pounds on her at the time. She did it like it was easy. After some more prodding and getting her mom over there to help, we finally get her inside, and they give her something. She calms down slowly. After sleeping it off, she was fine.
One thing worked reliably - an antidepressant called mirtazapine - but it had nasty side effects. Gained about 25 pounds on it. That is no good, plus it did nothing to help depression or anxiety. Psych meds are awful things and should be the absolute last resort. I can’t imagine ever being so tired I would consider that. I have had entire weeks with less than 16 hours of sleep and even then I would not consider going back on it. In fact, psych meds changing my brain could very well be the reason for my sleep issues today.
The idea of medication is scary after that. Maybe it is helpful and is what is needed. The problem is that last summer. I was so exhausted I hinted at my doctor, and she didn’t seem to want to try it. It might not be an option with my other issues.
This might seems like all of this is a bad thing for me, it is not. It is certainly not great, but it’s okay. More tinkering around with my schedule and let go of the notion that it is a bad thing that I try to sleep a ton for a week. I just have to fall asleep first. Now, where did I put ball-peen hammer?