Accustomed to Insomnia

By Kooper Anderson

Throughout my entire life, I’ve dealt with multiple ongoing cases of insomnia. I’ve went
to see many medical professionals to try to find assistance in getting better sleep at night. The
doctors that I went to see always thought it was very bizarre that a young and athletic kid had as
many sleeping issues as I did. I was averaging anywhere from 4-6 hours of sleep a night from
ages 12-16, and once I started taking multiple different Benzodiazepines, I started to see progress
to 6-8 hours of sleep at night. I would see progress for about a month or two from a drug like
Restoril, but the downfall was that my body would become accustomed to that drug, and I would
build up a tolerance to the medication. Sleep became such a hassle to me from a very young age
due to the fact that it was such a struggle and there were so many steps involved.

After about seven years of bouncing through multiple sleeping medications like Doxepine, Lemborexant,
Eszopiclone, and Ambien, I grew frustrated and became so infuriated with my sleepless nights that I
thought nothing would work. I was going into my freshman year of college, and I was
determined to get off sleeping medication and find a way to sleep without relying on prescription
meds. After meeting with a somnologist in Baltimore, her and I devised a plan to ween myself
off the drugs I had been taking for years to sleep. The plan involved establishing a consistent
bedtime routine, clearing my mind at night, meditation, and aromatherapy. Honestly, I was very
doubtful due to how reliant I was to my sleeping medication. It took a lot of effort, but I forced
myself to develop a nighttime routine that transformed my insomnia into good sleeping habits. It was a mental warfare for me at nights, but now four years later, looking back, it was the best
decision I have ever made in my life. I am now averaging 7-9 hours of sleep a night and am
completely medication free.

My story is not unique, and here’s the problem. People throughout the world ranging
from all ages do not understand the harms that sleeping medication can bring about. For
example, extremely high levels of sleeping pill abusage causes up to 507,000 worldwide deaths a
year. That is a staggering number for something that can be treated naturally. Addiction to
sleeping pills is also known to skyrocket depression rates. When depression rates go up, the
number of suicides go up as well. This is a very evident case of the domino-effect all with one
common theme which starts with the abuse of sleeping medication. Addiction to sleeping pills
can also result in sleep apnea. A person with sleep apnea has shallow breathing that starts and
stops at different times while they are sleeping. Sleep apnea is a very serious matter that can lead
to death. A person may experience disturbed sleep because of sleep apnea. People frequently
develop serious heart issues when they sleep for extended periods of time while experiencing
disturbed sleep. Over-the-counter sleeping pills addiction is even possible.

Addiction to over-the-counter sleeping pills can lead to heart problems, respiratory problems, or depression, just like with
prescription medications. Treatment for sleeping pill addiction is required due to the serious
health risks that it poses. Additionally, the increasing prevalence of sleeping pill addiction makes
it abundantly clear that treatment is paramount in overcoming this strange form of addiction for
something that comes so simple to most people… sleep (Discoverynj.org).

When looking at
the sleeping pill epidemic from a youth framework, Mott Poll from the University of Michigan
unveiled multiple alarming statistics. Sixteen percent of kids worldwide have used some sort of
over-the-counter sleep medicine like Nyquil, melatonin, or any sort of pain reliever/cold medicine. Fourteen percent of children rely on antihistamines like Benadryl in order to get “good” sleep (Discoverynj.org). This addiction acts as a stepping stone to prescription sleeping medication and can very well take you down a very slippery slope. Five percent of kids
worldwide have visited a doctor and are now taking prescription sleep medicine in order to go to
sleep (mottpoll.org). One in six parents worldwide are noted to believe their kid experience
recurrent sleeping issues, and only 40% of parents have taken their child to the doctor to
overcome this serious issue (mottpoll.org).

There are many non-profits working to either help people sleep sounder without
medication or aid in treating sleeping pill withdrawal. A key non-profit working to help lower
the usage of sleeping pills is a group by the name of Windward Way. Windward Way stresses
the addictive effects of sleeping medication and counsels patients who are experiencing sleeping
pill withdrawal. They develop certain treatment plans that cater directly to the patient

Another non-profit organization looking to squander the sleeping pill epidemic is
Sunshine Behavioral Health. Sunshine Behavioral Health brings people struggling with addiction
into their facility. They offer their patients a medically assisted detox which involves multiple
face to face meetings, physical assessments, and a Bio/Psycho/Social assessment

In order to help end the sleeping pill addiction epidemic that causes severe breakdown of
families throughout the world today, you can donate to any non-profit looking to end this
problem. Donating to research centers on sleeping is also a crucial way to help bring about more
awareness to this public health issue that goes overlooked time and time again.

Works Cited

D.O., D. J. N. R. (2022, March 23). Sleeping pill addiction: Diagnosis and treatment: Discovery
institute. The Discovery Institute. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from
Sleeping pills addiction treatment. Sunshine Behavioral Health. (2022, September 30). Retrieved
October 16, 2022, from https://www.sunshinebehavioralhealth.com/sedatives/sleeping-
Navigating sleeping pill withdrawal. Windward Way Recovery. (2021, July 19). Retrieved
October 16, 2022, from https://windwardway.com/withdrawal/sleeping-pills/
When teens can’t sleep. National Poll on Children’s Health. (n.d.). Retrieved October 16, 2022,
from https://mottpoll.org/reports/when-teens-cant-sleep

Categories: Home, op ed

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