The quest for sleep (getting rid of Ambien and caffeine)
There’s a number of reasons why I seem to have, over the years, developed the inability to fall asleep naturally on my own. In the more recent years I have been able to attribute those reasons to shift work. All the other stresses and issues that could have been a source for sleep depravation from my youth to my adult years I feel I have handled and moved forward from with the last piece in the puzzle being the reliance on Ambien to fall asleep and then again to go back to sleep.
About a year ago I tried to give up Ambien an was mildly successful as I recall by using an alternative sleep aid like ibuprofen pm but was having to take too much and feeling too groggy as a result so I gave it up.
About three weeks ago I started the journey again. During my time off from work (which is 8-9 days) I decided to go without Ambien. This didn’t mean I was getting sleep I was just napping overnight but I was doing ok during the day so I went with it. I also started taking melatonin, 5mg gummies. (They are quite good so I would eat 5-6 of these so about 25-30mg of melatonin). It kind of helped.
This week I am trying a new tactic. A friend gave me some hibiscus tea to try. In Grenada we referred to it as sorrel and made a Christmas drink from the hibiscus flowers. I never knew that there is some sleep benefits to this basically from what I’ve read, lower the blood pressure type stuff. It does seem to to be quite relaxing as a hot tea so whether or not it helps with sleep is still to be determined but the relaxing effect of a good cup of hot tea is a definite good thing.
The difference between this week and 2 weeks ago when I started this Ambien-free journey is that this week I am also eliminating caffeine. My previous habit was to drink a red bull or two in the morning. Two weeks ago when I started the Ambien-free journey, I switched to cold-brew coffee that I make instead of red bull. As I started thinking about the whole desire to fall asleep naturally I thought it seems important to do all I can to do try and get the stimulants that might screw up the process out.
So now the journey.
Night 1 Tuesday the 7th of June. 1 pot of Sorrel tea and probably about 4 or 5 melatonin. I slept pretty decently over the night with a trip to the bathroom. Not great sleep just not wide awake all night wishing I could fall asleep.
Wednesday, the 8th. I was dragging most of the day. I felt like I had gotten sleep but was just groggy all day till about 4 or 5 in the afternoon.
Wednesday night of the 8th. I spent the early evening with friends and then had 2 large cups of the sorrel tea and I don’t recall how many melatonin gummies. I was up all night. Couldn’t seem to get more than basic naps over night and was not a good night overall.
Thursday daytime after such a crappy attempt at sleep was well, great. I was wide awake, energetic and able to get some projects done around the house. Thursday late afternoon I developed a headache. This seems to be a common side effect from giving up caffeine but it didn’t hit me for 2 days after my last red bull so I wasn’t sure if it was actually caffeine related.
Thursday night the 9th, I decided to start documenting when I get up overnight and how much tea I drink etc. Thursday night I slept pretty decently. As Friday daytime presented itself I felt pretty confident I could make it through without Ambien or caffeine in the future.
The headache persisted all day Friday. I had a couple of meetings I had to go to and some work to get done and once all that was done it was around 230pm. I was overcome with exhaustion and joined my dog for a nap that was on and off till about 7pm. Some crazy dreams like crashing my drone that seemed so very real. I woke up with the continued headache.
Fiday night – I’m drinking a cup of tea now planning to go back to bed soon but I decided to start writing about this journey because I am discovering that there seem to be a lot of people struggling with the sleep thing. Maybe something in my journey will help others and maybe I’ll get some feedback here with comments that will help me.
The big realisation I’ve had today is the caffeine impact. If this headache is a caffeine withdrawal symptom, as seems what a lot of people associate with stopping caffeine intake, why did it take 2 days to effect me? I looked up caffeine withdrawal stuff and at first it talked about being out of your system in like 5-6 hours but then it talked about removing caffeine from your diet and saying that those side effects could last 10-12 days. This tells me that there is a lot more to caffeine than meets the eye. I didn’t go into this Ambien-free journey with the intention of eliminating caffeine but seeing a side-effect of caffeine withdrawal take so long to manifest itself in me makes me think there is some value to getting caffeine out of my system too.