Insomnia

This is not medical advice

It is the time of year that I begin to get hypomania. I can always feel it coming in March, but not this year. I feel like darkness is dragging me down. So I should be sleeping a lot.

If I were human, I would be.

My sleep isn’t awful, comparatively. It has been much worse, but it is not good. I am not losing track of time as often, at least not days. Hours, yes, but not days. It is still hard to do anything. Hopefully, as my focus improves, losing track of time should no longer be an issue. Maybe.

Should I break the record for no sleep? Not sure what it is, at least 11 days. Might be fun trying. It is not like it will make anything worse.

I sometimes wonder if my head would be better if I got more sleep. I would have to be more productive, right?

There is something wrong. Good!

Despite the title, I don’t qualify for the diagnosis of insomnia. How ridiculous is that?

Lately, sometimes I fall asleep naturally. That’s new. It is not often, but that is some improvement. There is no rhyme or reason to it. It doesn’t matter if it is a long hard day or a lazy day. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between keeping busy and being able to fall asleep without taking anything.

I have learned the hard way that a person shouldn’t take sleep aids long-term. You build a tolerance for it. It is not fun, but there seems to be no avoiding it.

I suppose I could just stay up until I fall asleep. That would mean regularly being awake for 40+ hours at a time. It doesn’t seem like a good solution.

I used to take melatonin. About 1-3 mg would do it. Augmenting it with valerian root would help me have a calm sleep. It worked for many years, but I had to steadily increase the dosage. Now, 10 mg doesn’t do a thing to help. Your body naturally produces melatonin, less than 1 mg a day. So my brain got messed up. Is that why sleep issues persist?

Antihistamines have a sedative effect. There are two types of antihistamines that you can get as sleep aids over the counter in the US: Diphenhydramine and Doxylamine. They are sold under lots of brand names and generics. The former is more common. For me, it causes restless legs. I think I took it too much when I lived in Georgia and Key West. I am a fire ant attractor, and it helped with the itching. Over time the restless leg issue started developing. Doxylamine used to work well, and less so now, but it still works occasionally.

I have gotten CDB online from Eden’s Herbals. It is legal federally. I buy the full spectrum oil that is cinnamon flavored. It’s derived from industrial hemp. Full-spectrum CDB does have some THC in it. By US law, it can not have more than 0.3% THC, which is not enough to impair you or make you any level of high. It turns out that CDB is more effective if it also has a small amount of THC. It worked pretty well by itself, but of course, over time it didn’t help as much. I started to take it about an hour before I took doxylamine and that helped a lot. Now, it only helps for a few days in a row. Big shocker.

CDB is not psychoactive. It doesn’t get you high or impair you in any way. That makes it a good choice for sleep, anxiety, and lots of things. It can be purchased in the US in grocery stores and pharmacies. I highly recommend that you do not do that. It is often mixed in water and sold in clear bottles. Light kills CDB, so it needs to be in a thick, opaque glass container. Many of those products also barely contain CDB, so it won’t help, and they cost like that have a lot.

Eden herbals are of good quality, but there are many other places online and there are likely reputable shops in your area that sell quality CDB. Quality CDB is expensive, even with Eden’s great sales. It is $40-$60 in tincture form in a 1 ounce (30ml) bottle.

If you live in a state where pot is still illegal, make sure you get CDB that comes from industrial hemp and is certified to follow the US Farm Bill. That way, you can not get into any legal issues anywhere in the US, probably. If you live in a backwards state(i.e. the entire south, Idaho, etc.), there may be local issues. However, CDB can be mailed anywhere in the US through the post office, UPS, etc.

Last November, my shoulder decided to go nuts again with bursitis and tendonitis. I was out of town and went to the same hospital my dad was in. Instead of properly treating it, they gave me a worthless and painful shot of Toradol instead of a corticosteroid that actually works. Toradol is a painful injection, and it doesn’t work for me. Getting that shot is exactly like not getting it. It is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory. An injectable ibuprofen.

They also gave me a prescription of Flexeril, which is a muscle relaxant. That is good for me because my muscles are always very tight, especially in my severely damaged shoulder. It also helped me sleep well. I fell asleep quickly for me, less than an hour. A few weeks later, I have a physical. I mentioned to my doctor that it helped me sleep, hoping she would give me more. I was unsure if it was something that would be okay to take. She said it was and wrote me a prescription. Shockingly, a few weeks later, it was less effective. Okay, it is not that shocking. It still works but sometimes takes 5-6 hours to make me tired, but I think I would probably have gotten tired without it. Taking CDB also works okay, but not all the time. Taking Flexeril with doxylamine seems dangerous, so I have not done that.

A few months ago, one of my sisters gave me some gummies that supposedly help sleep. They have 10 mg of CDB and 10 mg of THC from the Indica strain. That strain is supposed to have calming effects. I live in a state where pot has been legal for almost a decade, so there are weed shops everywhere. They are as common as Starbucks.

My soon-to-be niece-in-law works in a weed shop. They are hilariously called budtenders. Since I have never smoked pot - and never will - and am a lightweight with things like pain meds - she said that one was way too much and recommended that I cut them into quarters.

I learned the hard way that the CDB and THC are not evenly distributed across the gummy. I am curious if the 10 mg in a single gummy is accurate. The first time I ate 1/4 of it, I felt nothing. She did say that it can take up to two hours to feel the effects. After three hours and not feeling anything or getting tired, I take another 1/4. Still, nothing but that is all I took that night and suffered from little sleep.

The next night I just took half of the gummy. Still nothing, so I stopped. I talked to my sister, who is not a cautious type. The complete opposite of me. She said, “just eat a whole one!” I have learned to not listen to my sisters, and I should not have listened to her about this. I ate an entire one, and it is hard to describe what happened. I was watching an episode of criminal minds when it hit and forgot what the episode was about or what happened a second earlier. I paused it, closed my eyes and focused on what I just saw, and tried to remember the show backyards. It was like a scene-for-scene slideshow, going in reverse! It helped me remember what was going on, but the second my eyes opened, I forgot it all again. It was super strong, but I did sleep. My dreams were bonkers, and sometimes I was unsure if I was asleep or not. Listen to budtenders!

A few days later, nothing else was working, so I tried half a gummy, and it did work. It was not like taking all of it, not intense. It always works, but often once the effects wear off, I wake up. When that happens, that is 4-5 hours of sleep, which is okay. Eight hours would be better, but I don’t eat another one or take anything else the same night. I also do not mix it with anything else that I mentioned here. That is not different from OTC sleep aids or plain CDB.

If I decide to add this to my rotation, it seems that finding something that doesn’t need to be cut would be best. The half gummy might kick in, but I am long asleep by the time it hits its peak, and can’t tell if it is hitting me hard in that state. It probably doesn’t, opioid pain meds are felt when I am asleep. This is not that way. It is awful losing any control of my mind. It is too close to seizures.

A potential benefit is that my CPAP reports close to 0 apnea events per hour when otherwise I range from 0 to 7 events per hour. I need to create a log with my exercise tracker, so any correlations can be found.

Another downside to those gummies is that they are $2.20 each, but is not so bad when cutting them in halves or quarter them.

That is a lot of money tied up into something that should happen naturally.

Benzodiazepines are prescribed mostly for anxiety. Valium is probably the most well known of this class, but there are many kinds with different properties. Since they work well, I can not seem to get any refills of clonazepam. When I had an active prescription I was able to save a few hundred of them because I only took it when it needed. My doctor wrote to take it twice a day. I might have taken them four or five times a week.

I might be down to 90-100, so I take it only when I have noticeable issues in my head keeping me awake. Once, my doctor prescribed a different kind of benzo called temazepam, which is used to help people sleep. It did not help and caused severe issues. My anxiety levels went off the charts, and I could barely stand. It felt a little like seizure auras without the weird hallucinations. I tried it twice, and twice it laid me out for three days. My doctor didn’t believe me, but I refused to take them any longer.

Clonazepam works by itself sometimes. Sometimes I will mix it with CDB with about an hour between them or doxylamine, but take the benzo first and then 3-4 hours later take the other.

Since things will work for a few days and then stop for a while, I alternate days for all of these things. I am getting pretty good at predicting what will work when, so I don’t have a schedule. It is not perfect, sleep is still bad, but it is mostly okay. Relatively.

For a normal person, it would probably be super bad. If I can get at least five hours and decent sleep, I am generally okay. Lately, I have been on a weird sleep pattern. One night I will fall asleep at 5 am or so, wake at 10 am. The following night, it is much easier to sleep around midnight and the next night difficult again. So right now, every other day is painfully bad. Better than what it was, at least.

I used to be able to go 2+ days without sleep and still be very effective in the military. Getting old sucks. I highly recommend staying young forever.

I do check for dangerous combinations before trying combinations, and this is not a recommendation for anyone else to try this. Lots of over-the-counter sleep meds have mixtures of different things in them and nothing I am trying is radical. My doctor thinks that there are underlining causes, and she is likely correct as she almost always is. She wants me to go to CBT-I, a talk therapy for insomnia. Except that I did go in 2017 and completed it, and it was a waste of time for me. She never suggested anything beyond that, so I assume that I am on my own.

The only things I have not tried are prescription sleep aids and copious amounts of alcohol. My youngest daughter took Ambien once. That is enough to scare me into never trying it. Maybe it would work, but the risks are high. Drinking myself to sleep probably wouldn’t be all that helpful in trying to be healthier. It seems that the big question is: “Why do I care if I am healthy or not?” It literally doesn’t matter.

I am not sure if there is a solution to what should not be a problem. That is depressing.