I wrote "Remember When" shortly after my sleep problems began in October of 2015. It all started when I took a sabbatical from my job to be home with my 9-month-old daughter. I would lie awake, wondering what my next move should be.
Should I go back to work or should I stay home with Alyssa?
Will I forever ruin her if I go back?
Or will I forever ruin my chances of getting my career back if I left?
Those questions haunted me...mostly at night. I had always had some nights I couldn't sleep, especially after giving birth, but for the first time in my life it started consuming me.
I was afraid I would never sleep.
Days went by so quickly and nights so slowly. After a while, I didn’t even know the difference. I was just mad. I would get out of bed without sleeping and do the hardest workout I could do, just to prove to myself that I don't need sleep for energy.
This kept going for weeks. I remember not sleeping at all for days. A lot of my sleep anxiety was also just triggered by the thought of Alyssa crying at night. It got to the point that my husband, Sameer, booked a hotel room for me close to the house, just so I could get one good night’s sleep and just catch up. I did a little better that night in the hotel. Maybe 6 hours. I also did some sleep meditations to help. But the hotel was just a temporary fix.
I needed something more.
Insomnia wasn't a foreign concept for me. I had some close friends who had been facing it for years who had talked to me about it. Before it happened to me, it was just me listening to their stories with sympathy. But today I listen with empathy. I asked them what medications they take to get some sleep. I got all the names, some strong and some with just a mild dose of melatonin.
I was a little apprehensive about taking medication though. A few years earlier I had gone to India for just one week, so a friend had recommended some sort of dream pill to help with jet lag. But that caused me to hallucinate all night and scared me from taking strong sleeping pills. So I started taking benadryl here and there, but I never quite felt like myself the next day. Or I’d drink too much alcohol on purpose so I would at least get drunk sleep (which came back to bite me in the ass around 4 AM...keeping me awake all night). I told my doctor, and she prescribed a low dose of antidepressant. She said that initially a side effect could be sleeplessness but then it would work. The sleep deprived Lisa - the one with zero perspective - liked the idea.
I just wanted to feel like me again.
Lucky for me, the night before I had planned to pick up the medicine I slept really well. I now know - since lack of sleep is mostly just psychosomatic - that it was the idea of knowing I had a cure. So the next day, after 10 hours of sleep, when I felt 100% like myself again, I decided not to get the medicine. I had a great day, mostly just laughing - a lot! I realized that day that I could do this without medicine. I never fully had insomnia, but I knew that if I didn’t tackle this now, that’s where I was heading.
And so the journey began. I started by talking to my aunt, an ayurvedic professional, who has always guided me over the years with breathing, meditations and just general life issues. She gave me some natural remedies for sleep. It was my starting point and I built from there. It was a slow process to get to where I am today. I still take it one night at a time. I used to say I have “Sleep Problems,” but now I have “Sleep Solutions.”
It never sounds like a big deal to those who don't struggle, but it is excruciating for the person going through it. You feel like there's a wall between you and the world. You lose perspective and the ability to just be in a more present mind set. I have one daily philosophy I swear by (it sounds corny but it works for me): I don't just sleep to live but I live to sleep. I wake up every morning, grateful for a good night’s sleep. And as soon as I’m out of bed, I start to work on getting a good night’s sleep the next night.
Friends and family have been coming to me seeking sleep advice and I try and tell them what I know. But it’s an abundance of information, and I always leave out something. So to give people the resources and info that I wish I had, I decided to put this website together to share some of my research, tips and insight.
A quick disclaimer. If you’ve been taking sleep medication, you should talk to your doctor first about how to wean yourself off safely. I definitely think it was easier for me to rely on natural remedies because my body wasn't used to medicine. So it will be different for anyone who is on medication. Speaking strictly as a non-professional, I think slowly weaning yourself off with milder medicine would be the best way for the body to slowly end its dependency. And if you take medicine, expect to have sleepless nights in the beginning.