Anxiety Induced Sleep Problems
by I. Jackson
I started having sleep problems when I was 19. As sophomore full-time premedicine student heavily involved with extracurricular activites while employed part-time in the service industry, I had a hunch that my sleep problems where highly correlated with anxiety from all of the responsibilities I had taken on.
I was basically a workaholic and an overachiever who had many restless nights. I would toss and turn constantly in my bed. Once I had fallen asleep I would wake up in the wee hours which would lead to frequently eating after hours, something I hoped would help me fall asleep but only lead to much weight gain. I decided to seek out some solutions to my problem.
I first opted to try natural remedies. A friend of mine who had worked in the airline industry for some time recommended I take a melatonin supplement, something she had used to help her fight off the jetlag she had frequently experienced as a flight attendant. My grandmother is very fond of natural remedies suggested that I try drink warm milk on an emply stomach shortly before going to bed. I first tried drinking between 10-12 oz of warm milk before bed time for a few weeks, and I had very minimal results. I went to Walgreens to the vitamins section and purchased melatonin (5.00 for a bottle of about 100 pills) then tried the melatonin at 1.5mg. I later increased it to 3.0mg at bedtime. The results were much greater than the milk remedy, but I still didn't get the results I needed so decided to see a doctor.
Despite the associated stigmas, I decided to see a psychiatrist. At first I was apprehensive about going. but I knew that I had to get some help for the problem I was having because I knew that lack of sleep could lead to other major health problems, which I really didn't need. He prescribed me hydroxizine (generic Vistaril) at 25mg-50mg at night before bedtime. I have been taking this medication for 5 years, and it is the best decision that I have made for my health. I have experienced very minimal side effects (slight drowsiness in the mornings but still able to function as normal). I also tried Ambien CR at 6.25mg, but the medication was too strong for me. I was always very drowsy even so two hours after waking up, so I decided to stick with the hydroxizine.
I still take the medication but dont use it as much since I understand the reason for my sleep problems and that it is more anxiety induce than anything else. While I using less of the chemical therapy I am beginning to combine it with alternative therapies, I guess you can call it combination therapy. I just recently joined a local gym and I will be taking yoga classes regularly, something that will help combat the anxiety that I have been experiencing.
If I were to have a child that experienced sleep problems I would highly opt for alternative therapies especially for developing children since they are still growing. Although they may be effective, it may not be a great thing in the long run because of unknown side effects which make manifest later in life.