Sleep is one of those things that we all take for granted until it’s gone.
I’ve always loved sleeping, but I never thought much about it. Until my sleep was ravaged by addiction.
Insomnia is one common symptom of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), and it’s more severe than it sounds. If you’ve never suffered from insomnia, I can tell you that it’s a beast. When you don’t get sleep, everything suffers.
Sleeping pills are a common solution, but they’re risky, especially for recovering addicts.
Dangers of sleeping pills
I suffered for what seems like a very long time before I talked to my doctor about my insomnia. I was waiting for it to work itself out, and I was afraid my doctor would prescribe a sleeping pill.
As a recovering addict, sleeping pills are a big no-no. Actually, their addictive properties make sleeping pills dangerous for everyone. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over half a million individuals have a sleeping pill addiction.
Even if you don’t get addicted to sleeping pills, they come with side effects. Dizziness and daytime sleepiness are the most common side effects of these drugs, but a small percentage of people experience more serious side effects like memory loss, hallucinations, anxiety, confusion and aggressive behavior.
Types of insomnia
During the first few sleepless nights, I was hoping that I had acute insomnia. Virtually everyone has dealt with this at some point. Acute insomnia is a brief episode of sleeplessness. It’s a passing thing and doesn’t require treatment.
But when I finally went to the doctor, I learned that there were actually 4 other types of insomnia:
- Chronic – Chronic insomnia can have many causes, but it’s characterized by a long-term pattern of sleeplessness.
- Comorbid – This type of insomnia occurs alongside another condition. Anxiety, depression, and addiction are all conditions that are often associated with insomnia.
- Onset – This is when you have difficulty falling asleep.
- Maintenance – If you have maintenance insomnia, you fall asleep okay but wake up in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep.
Clearly, I was dealing with comorbid insomnia. But fortunately, there are natural treatments that address all types of insomnia.
Insomnia and mental health
I’m not ashamed to say that my mental health was in a very fragile state. From addiction through recovery, I experienced many mental and emotional changes. I struggled with anxiety, depression and constant cravings. Insomnia was the icing on the cake, but it felt more like the last straw.
As Dr. Raison of the Psych Congress Network put it, “Sleep is the king of both psychological well-being and psychological dismay. It is at the back of so many things.”
There’s no way around it, I was in a state of psychological dismay. I’ve learned that lack of sleep doesn’t necessarily cause depression (and that was true for me too), but it can definitely worsen the condition (also true for me).
My search for natural cures
Sleeping pills weren’t an option for me, so I had to experiment with different natural treatments before I could find something that worked. I want to jump straight to what worked for me and why I believe it worked, but I’ll also cover a few natural treatments because I don’t believe there’s one solution for everyone’s problem. Unfortunately, you may not be able to skip the trial and error part of the process.
Magnesium and insomnia
Again, what worked for me may not work for everyone, but I saw the most significant improvement after supplementing with magnesium.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that’s used for a vast number of bodily functions. And interestingly enough, insomnia is one symptom of magnesium deficiency. Depression is another.
I did a little digging and learned that addicts are more likely to suffer from magnesium deficiency, so I asked my doctor for a test. The results showed that my levels were low, and I wasn’t surprised one bit.
I half expected a miracle turnaround when I started supplementing, but nothing happened at first. In fact, it took about two weeks before I saw any significant results – and those results were staggering.
One night, I fell asleep so fast I barely remember laying down. Naturally, I thought it was a fluke. But it started to become the norm instead of the exception. It took a while to get completely back on track, but I was happy for any relief from my insomnia.
You don’t have to be an addict to experience magnesium deficiency, so I’d suggest that you get tested if you’re suffering from insomnia. If magnesium is your problem, supplementing a relatively easy solution.
Insomnia’s effects are so far-reaching that it can touch every area of your life. It can impact your work and relationships, and it can rob you of your happiness. But take it from a recovering addict, sleeping pills are dangerous.
Fortunately, I was able to find a solution that fixed what seems to be one of the root causes of my insomnia. But I know my solution won’t work for everyone. So, I wanted to share some of the other natural treatments for insomnia that I tried personally.
- Valerian root
- White noise
- Tart cherry juice
Experiment with different things to see which help you get the most rest. Your treatment is out there. You just have to find it.