No More Sleep Aids

So it’s been quite a while since I’ve taken the time to sit down and even attempt to put my thoughts and experience to order. Usually my trains of thought run full-speed through scheduled statations. They feel like a courtroom clammoring with noise and conversation, and in there somewhere sits me in a black robe, giving up on even trying to call it to order. I don’t even know where the gavel is anymore. This is why I’ve had trouble sleeping for years.

It didn’t start out that way. I’ve always been a good sleeper. If I was tired, I could sleep. If I wasn’t tired, I could sleep.

Nearly two years ago at my previous employer, we lost a few people on our team, and I (along with a couple others) picked up an increased workload, that seemed to increase by the hour. This, of course, was on top of our already busy schedule. Days droned on, the “no, but yes” conversations continued to happen (because I never say no without a reason, and some managers know how to turn that on you…so no, ended up being yes, without me knowing). Responsibilities grew, and with new projects came new risks, with new risks came more hours, and more hours meant less crunch time for my brain.

I blogged regularly for many years. I think somewhere along the road I forgot how theraputic and relaxing it could be. Not so much that writing my thoughts gave me any sort of euphoric bliss, but that what I reaped in emptying my brain payed major dividends when it was time to “turn off” and sleep.

So, I’ve been taking a sleep aid (known as “Knock Out” — it’s all natural, with melatonin, etc) for nearly two years now. It was the only thing (other than my favorite cherry flavored NyQuil) that would actually let my train of thought stop at a station for a few hours. Long enough that I could fall asleep, and find a decent amount of rest. I used to think that taking a sleep aid (of any kind) is absurd. Like I said, I used to sleep so well it was ridiculous. Never a worry about finding slumber. It wasn’t an issue. So for me to reach the point of taking said sleep aid, things had become dangerous.

I was driving an hour and a half each way, to and from work on top of the extra stress of new responsibilities, and extended hours. Marry that with getting less than two hours sleep each night for months,  and caring for a six month old child, my wife was worried. So was I.

Okay, back to finding the gavel.

Last night, I went to my little weekly pill box (I take an antacid, allergy meds, and the sleep aid). I noticed that Thursday’s pills were still in the respective compartment. I thought back to the night before, and I slept well. Not just “I slept” but I remember waking up feeling rested. So, I opened the compartment for Friday, and took out the three pills. I HAD MY GAVEL BACK. I put the sleep aid pill back in the compartment. I took my allergy meds (not benadryl, mind you, that’s not why I still slept), and my heartburn meds, and proceeded with my evening routine.

When I laid down, and after I was done with the phone, iPad, and Netflix (I know another bad habit, trying to curb that!), I laid my head down, and for a brief moment I had uncontrollable thoughts, and immediate anxiety at the thought of not taking a sleeping pill. My thoughts raced. I felt immdiately panicked.


It stopped. The uncontrollable thoughts, the rambling worry probes firing away, the music I heard earlier, the disney song stuck in my head from one of my daughters movies…it was gone. It wasn’t silence, but it was no longer chaos.

I slept so well, I think I might have been taking placebos this whole time. Perhaps I have, perhaps I just needed a vocational change. Perhaps it was a phase. Whatever it was, I’m not losing the gavel again. There’s something to be said about keeping control of your thoughts, and your anxiety. It’s not easy, and sometimes you need help.

I haven’t been this motivated, or rested in a long time (and it’s only been two nights).