The Devil You Know…

Decisions, decisions.

Anyone who’s familiar with this blog will know that I suffer from chronic insomnia, whether it’s my cat waking me up early in the morning or my own body that’s doing it. It’s been getting worse lately, and I have to make up my mind: Do I care if I don’t get more than a few hours sleep every night, or do I want to risk becoming dependent on a prescription sleeping pill?

It’s not a super strong sleeping pill–just something designed to help me sleep through the night, and I’ve never had trouble waking up from it the next day when I need to. However, I’m leery of becoming dependent on it. I’m already dependent on the mild muscle relaxer and anti-anxiety pills i take every night (if I run out even for a few days, I regret it); I don’t want to completely screw my chances of ever sleeping normally. On the other hand, it would be nice to “sleep in” to a reasonable time every day.

There’s still another thing to consider: I once fell asleep driving the morning after I took a stronger sleeping pill. I had been on that particular pill for a long time (months to years, I can’t remember for sure), and even though I thought my body was used to it, I was quite wrong. I had to wake up early that day for a doctor’s appointment, and I was still groggy from the pill. The bad thing is, I didn’t realize how groggy I was until I was on the road and halfway to my appointment. I don’t remember falling asleep, but I remember the thud of my bumper hitting the car in front of me jarring me awake, and I remember thinking (as my car went off the road into an empty parking lot): Why won’t the car stop?

Yeah. I was so out of it that I forgot to put my foot on the brake. Thankfully, the curb slowed me down and the lot was empty. I managed to stop the car safely (well, relatively safely considering I had just rear-ended someone) and, after promising the responding officer that I wouldn’t be driving again the rest of the day, I rescheduled my appointment and had my mom pick me up.

Now, the sleeping pill that I have available to me isn’t as strong as the pill I took years ago. I still worry, though, that even if I don’t become dependent on it to sleep I could still end up with my car’s front end in another car’s back end…or worse. I haven’t had that problem with this particular pill, mind you, but the memory is there.

Another thing that has me doubting the “need” for this med is that I fall asleep fine, usually. I actually fall asleep relatively early and easily (possibly due to the muscle relaxant and anti-anxiety meds). So in my mind, I question if I really need to take it every night. I know that I’ll more than likely fall asleep well on my own; what I can’t predict is whether I’ll get enough hours of decent sleep on any given night. The sleeping pill is prescribed “as needed”….Well, how do I know if I need it? I mean, yeah, obviously I need it lately because my body’s sleep schedule is so out of whack, but when do I know if I no longer need it, or if I can skip it for a night or three? How do I ensure that I don’t end up having to take it every single night?

Because of the hour at which I go to bed each night, I seriously doubt I’d ever get into another situation where I’m driving sleepy the next day (in the previous example, I was on an evening shift schedule and thus going to bed and getting up much later than I do now), but still…it shakes you up a bit to wake up and see your car going off the road and not knowing exactly why right away.

I suppose, after seeing this internal debate written out, I’ll start taking it tonight and see how I do. I can always stop taking it periodically to make sure I don’t go into withdrawal or something from not taking it. I just hate that I might have to take yet another pill on a regular basis for something that my body should be able to do on its own.


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