insomnia (Photo credit: babblingdweeb)
I have battled insomnia for all of my life. I got the double whammy in terms of insomnia, both the inability to fall asleep and the inability to stay asleep. This results in me spending an extremely long time in bed just to get a decent amount of sleep and I never wake up feeling refreshed and full of energy.
Five years ago as part of another medical problem my smart doctor thought to ask about sleeping problems and gave me what I call my happy brain drugs (a low dose of tricyclic antidepressant). This drug tells my brain what is supposed to do with serotonin when it comes time to go to bed. This has dropped how long it takes me to fall asleep from around 2 hours to about 30mins. But still I have problems staying asleep.
Enter the unlikely hero – magnesium/calcium supplements. I have done a lot of reading about insomnia and magnesium deficiency was one of the things that kept popping up as a cause of insomnia. Since it is likely that I do have a magnesium deficiency I decided to buy 15 tablets and give it a try.
This stuff is magical. I stupidly took the first dose about 3 hours before my usual bedtime and within 30mins I was struggling to keep my eyes open, so now I take it just as I’m going to bed. This gives me time to read before entering the land of nod. I find I am falling asleep easier and staying asleep for longer. I still wake up during the night but now it is only once or twice rather than 5 or more times and I can fall back asleep. For the first time ever, I’m waking up before my alarm and feeling like I have some energy.
I know that magnesium supplements won’t work for everyone with insomnia due to the many different things that causes it. However, if you have tried all the other tricks, like I had and are still having problems, I would recommend giving the magnesium supplements a go. The ones I take dissolve in water so tablets might have a different reaction time, so play around with the timing of taking it. However, do not exceed the recommended dose. Supplements, though they sound natural and safe, can have very bad consequences if you take more than the recommended dose.
If you do try the magnesium supplements, let me know how it goes. I’m eager to know how effective they are beyond a sample size of 1.
I took one of my magic sleep inducing pills last night and had the best night’s sleep I’ve had in the past 6 days. My mind was pleasantly drowsy rather than whizzing around with a million ideas. It’s so nice to be able to drift off to sleep without your brain fighting you every step of the way.
I still woke up at 4am though (what is up with that? Seriously 4am on the dot for the past 7 nights) but was able to get back to sleep much more quickly than previously.
Of course, being the skeptic that I am, I was wondering if the chemicals in the tablet don’t really anything but it’s more the act of taking the tablet and thinking it will help that does the trick -the dreaded placebo effect. However, after having a good night’s sleep compared to the past week when I haven’t taken my medication, I don’t give a crap if it is the placebo effect or not, I just want my sleep!
Unfortunately, I can’t get my doctor in Australia to write a prescription and my parents send over the medication as medication is banned from being sent in the post to Germany. Therefore, I will head back to the doctor probably next week (bleh!), get my blood tests done and beg them to find an alternative that’s available in Germany (there has to be something). I need my sleep!
Last week, I went to see the doctor for the first time in Germany to get repeats of my long term medication. They have my anti-seizure medication available in Germany but they don’t have the medication that tells my brain it’s time for sleep. Therefore they took it away as they had no idea what to replace it with. It was hoped that my anti-seizure meds would make me drowsy enough to be able to sleep… but alas, no.
I have been bouncing off the walls when I should be asleep, then finally falling asleep for a couple of hours only to wake up at 4am to bounce off the walls for another hour or so before crashing out again and getting a tiny bit more precious sleep before my alarm goes off. It’s just not on. My serotonin cycle, it seems, is really screwed up without my meds.
I have 26 magic sleep inducing pills left. My doctor wants me to come in for blood tests in a couple of weeks, so I’m hoping that they will feel after that more willing to find a new medication for me once they know what my body is up to. I don’t know if I can go back to a life of not being able to sleep properly.
I’m wondering if melatonin tablets might do the trick, but don’t know if they are okay to use daily over a long period of time. A question to ask my doctor.
On the plus side, my anti seizure meds which in Australia cost about $200 for 100 tablets, only cost €10 for the same amount here in Germany. You have no idea how happy that makes my bank balance or how shocked I was when told the price. I’m sure the Apotheker got a good laugh out of my facial expression.