Using medication while doing the Sleepio course

I really want to begin the Sleepio course but the only thing holding me back is whether I should continue with my medication while I am doing it (mirtazapine and temazepam – both prescribed for sleep alone, but also a really bad bout of insomnia left me feeling depressed). Can't get my head round taking a sleep diary while on meds as it's not a true reflection of my normal sleep pattern. Would really like to hear others experiences of keeping on meds/coming off meds etc to see what might work best. Thanks!

Posted 27 Feb 2012 at 11:47 AM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Is anyone here taking sleeping meds? If so, are you trying to wean off them while doing the sleepio activity? It seems to me that sleepio is fine for people not taking anything, but ineffective for those who are. I don't understand why they don't address this. Just my opinion.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Mejosa, I took some sleep aids but not every night and I wasn't addicted to any meds either. But I did stop taking them as time went by.

    As a matter of fact you can still learn how to sleep by following what Prof says. Have a regular bedtime and getting up time. Maybe you can wean off the sleep medication as you go through the course, it is up to you, but you can definitely get into a good routine with or without meds.

    Ve

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello Mejosa and others,
    Yes I'm working at dropping my zopliclone while on the course but very gently.. last night was the first night Ive managed 6 hours sleep without any medication….[week 5 ]. I'm seriously pleased….
    Mind you I cut my 3.5mg tabs in half long ago and only reckon to take them if I can't get back to sleep after my toilet trip and if I'm awake for at least an hour. I didn't find getting up a help and thought it could be dangerous for a golden oldie like me. I was frightened of tripping and the house is cold at night.
    It was a sleepio link to the NICE site that explained withdrawal should be one night a week increasing 1 night each week. So cutting tabs then trying this schedule is the way I intend to go.
    I think your Dr. is right in suggesting taper one at a time but I guess you decide which is the easiest/ most beneficial choice.
    My GP tried to get me to take amitriptyline instead of zopiclone for back pain but I found although it eases pain a bit it made me increasingly dopey during the day which my zopiclone doesn't [shorter half life I guess].
    Like you I post when I take tabs but that is for personal records only, as you say the system doesn't allow for it.
    Tabs or not I've learnt quite a lot on the course especially about sleep windows and the dangers of computer light in the evenings..
    Best of luck on your med free quest I hope it goes well
    D oreen

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Who is Andrew Johnson? How can I listen?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I'm just starting week3. I have been prescribed various sleep Meds on and off for about a year. Some have worked better than others but nothing seems to work all the time. I'm wondering how effective this program is if I take occasional sleeping meds or what others would advise.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    Hello everyone-
    Thought I'd add a comment here on my experience with sleeping pills & starting this course. I hope it helps others. I was on sleeping pills (Ambien) for decades and found that they were actually driving my insomnia in their own way. Sleeping pills also stop working eventually so the need for increased doses occurs when your brain gets used to them. I had decided to get off of the pills before I found this course so my process of weaning off of them had already begun. Anyway, this is what I did to get off of them- titrating very slowly is vitally important. You'll have rebound insomnia from getting off of them but knowing that it's from the pills helps relieve some of the associated anxiety. I used a pill splitter (you can use a sharp knife if you don't have one) & removed about 1/4 of the pill thereby reducing the dose to 3/4s of my usually amount. I did that for about 2-3 weeks which was the hardest in terms of dealing with withdrawal symptoms. Then I reduced the dose again by 1/4. Did that for about 1-2 weeks & reduced the dose again for 1 week. I've been completely off of sleeping pills for 1 week now for the first time in decades so it can be done. I take herbs to help with the sleeping pill withdrawal & do a lot of meditation/relaxation. The sleeping pill withdrawal is gone but I'm continuing to take the herbs to help with my insomnia with the goal of not having to take any herbs eventually, just use meditation & relaxation techniques. I also started taking vitamins. I feel better that I have since I can remember & the brain fog has lifted. My memory has already improved where before I thought that my memory loss & impaired cognitive function was permanent. Now I'm just exhausted from being in week 1 of SR but when I get too frustrated from not functioning well during the day, I remind myself that at least I've kicked an awful habit & feel proud! Just go slow so that the withdrawal is manageable & be kind to yourself. It is all worth it in the end. B~

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I am taking this course as suggested by a sleep specialist doctor. I've had poor sleep for many years and have tried every sleep medication with increasingly
    lousy sleep. It turns out I have restlesss legs syndrome. So it's complicated. My doctor said to start the meds for restless legs, start taking iron supplements, and to take this course, and then once my sleep pattern is better, to taper off the Klonipin I'm currently taking. I started sleep restriction a week earlier, and IT WORKS. I am sleeping much better, when I do wake in the night, I go right back to sleep. I am encouraged. I am exercising hard every day, and following all the other rules. Last night I cut the Klonipin by 1/4 dose. I will go this way for a couple of weeks then cut another 1/4 dose. I think as my confidence about sleeping grows (and realizing I really don't need 8 hours at all)I will eventually be able to get rid of the Klonipin. I don't take it for anything else. I hope this helps. It feels terrible to be a slave to drugs that don't even deliver what they promise! My goal, and it may take a while, is natural sleep that is refreshing and restorative. I use a relaxation sleep app called SLEEP DEEPLY hypnosis. It is basically guided relaxation. Nothing weird about it. I go out like a light within 5 minutes if I am sufficiently sleepy when I get into bed. I am losing my anxiety about bedtime!

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 5

    Gin-gin just a question: Did you start tapering off your drugs while on the program or since then on account of what you learnt?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    HI Rumeran, I came off the drugs ( with the exception of klonopin which I tapered off of for a month) before I started the program. However, I was under dr. supervision, unable to drive, and out of work on FMLA leave for 2 months due to the deterioration of my health from prolonged sleep deprivation. This would normally be a slower process of getting off meds, if under different conditions. I went 2 years pill free but still struggled with sleep and extreme fatigue and therefore, had little social life. A year ago, I got put on Belsomra due to increased anxiety and fainting spells from lack of sleep. I am now working with a sleep specialist again to get off of xanax for extreme anxiety/panic and limit my use of Belsomra. All that said, I am night and day – way better now than when I was 3 years ago – but depending on how bad your condition in and how long it has been going on – it is something that for some people is cured and others managed. I am still a work in progress. I will tell you this – the program does help – I was at my rock bottom when I came here.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 5

    Thanks, Gin-gin, I am so sorry to hear how bad your struggle has been but also glad to hear that you are coping better at last. I don't think I am as bad as you were. I've been on Amitriptylene for 25 years and all previous attempts to come off it had failed, ie. I eventually end up not sleeping at all at night; or that's what it felt like. But I always still coped during the day and never had to stop work. I am now really hopeful that with the new skills and better understanding I am gaining with sleepio I might just have success this time. Maybe you too might be able to come off all your drugs if you persevered. That thought-changing process seems important and I think I shall really focus on 'catching' my thoughts and dealing with all the negative ones, replacing them with strong healthy healing thoughts.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Perhaps – I stayed off the pills and followed the program closely for two years (which meant I did not go out, drink, or date, never napped, and set the alarms on weekends – I was a perfectionist with it for the most part) and I ended up getting in a bad car wreck, passing out a few times head-first (again), and being taken to emergency care for a cat-scan, where I was put back on medication, despite my not wanting to be, for extreme sleep deprivation as I hurt another person in the accident. I had two wrecks from lack of sleep and was on the program at the time – so here I am. It is an ongoing battle.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    I was averaging about 3 hrs of sleep a night. I got up to 4-6 hrs of very broken sleep with the program and no pills so it was a huge improvement but my body collapsed and my blood work did too.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I have now been on here over 3 years – get off all screens before bed, don't sleep late, never nap, never drink, have remained single for this reason alone and it is a process. I still have specialists I see for my heart, bloodwork, and sleep. There is not a good transportation sys here so I have to drive and work late.The program helps – it isn't a cure – but it helps

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I've been on Ambien (2.5 – 5 mg per night) a couple months after insomnia got really bad due to workplace related anxiety. Some weeks are just difficult, especially if I have to give a lot of presentations at work, and there is a lot of arguing among my co-workers. Then I might have some bad nights and only get a couple hours even with the Ambien.

    The thing that's made the most difference for me is to work on processing the workplace stress earlier in the day, and to make plans for dealing with the problems. I write up my to-do list for the next day, and write down longer-term plans also. I use the thought checker to help with the catastrophizing.

    Then I try to get my mind off the situation on the weekends and in the evening. My doctor suggested I take a walk in the evening outside as the daylight would help with natural melatonin production, and for exercise. I also try reading a good book to take my mind off of things. If I can't stop ruminating, a warm bath can often help change my train of thought. If I can get out of the house on the weekends to do something fun, that also helps as I think part of the issue has been depression due to too much drudgery. Recently, I've been able to go a night here or there (mostly on weekends) without the Ambien.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Lilian. You certainly have the right attitude and what you are doing will help you when you get to week 3. The prof then will gradually introduce tools that will help you more.
    If you stick to his rules you will begin to see a gradual improvement in your sleep.
    I have been with sleepio for about 36 weeks and am sleeping so much better.
    It will be hard, but we are all here to help and advise so do keep posting.
    Megwich

  • Sleepio Member

    • 4 comments
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    Graduate

    Just discovering this thread after posting in the general grad discussion area…. so I am weaning off unisom (half dose at bedtime) which I started taking for morning sickness (I am pregnant and this with b6 is a common anti nausea cure). I guess I didn't realize how much it was helping me to sleep, because I am struggling with rebound insomnia now.

    I dropped to a 1/4 dose for a week then went to zero. I slept fine the first night on nothing but the last three nights have been progressively worse.

    Based on the last page of comments it sounds like I dropped it too soon! Does sleepio have guidelines on this? Any thoughts or tips are greatly appreciated….

    I have been awake an hour after 4 hours of deep sleep tonight… im going to meditate and then try again to sleep!

    Cheers,
    Erica

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    I think I am having rebound insomnia just from decreasing my Ativan dose under my doctor's supervision. It is so tempting to increase my dose, however, when I have two nights of consecutive bad sleep. I am very tired, but I am trying to hang in there. I am also working Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-Insomnia. It is like Sleepio, but personalized. She calls it Sleep Compression rather than seep restriction. She studies my diaries like hell to find the ideal time to retire and rise.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi drehery, In my experience doing sleepio was really hard to do, but it worked. I joined in June 2015, I was taking sleeping pills and struggled to get off them but was advised by the community that if I continued to take them I would not build up any confidence of getting to sleep on my own ability. So I hadn't been on them long but I took the sleeping tablets back to the chemist and sure enough I had trouble sleeping without them. But it made me work the Sleepio programme more making sure I got up if I couldn't sleep and sticking to my bedtime and getting up time. I was up and down the stairs night after night but when I had a good night it definitely started to build my confidence that I could sleep without any sleep aids. Before going to bed for my wind down I did all sorts of things to fill up the time like reading, crossword puzzles, listening to Prof's progressive relaxation, looking at photos or colouring books. I changed my routine when it didn't work any more. Gradually I started to sleep and had some good nights but bad nights still came along too. But I continued working at this programme and now my anxiety about bedtime has gone and my wind down is 5 to 10 minutes sitting in the dark before going to bed. I rarely have to get up these days.

    I think it is best to work one programme at a time, CBT is the best and probably only way of learning to sleep again. It is only your mind that stops you sleeping unless of course you suffer pain of some sort.

    Listen to Prof, do as he says and give it time to work. Insomnia is a stubborn condition and very hard to live with but you can turn it around. Some people overcome it quickly by using this programme but others, probably most of us, have to work at it hard and over a period of months before sleep starts to settle down.

    I get about 6 hours good quality sleep and feel good from it every day. I am really glad that I did sleepio, I had support from the community which helped me so much because there is someone to talk to all of the time and everyone knows how you feel.

    I pop into Sleepio now and then to see if my experience can help anyone and I hope it does. In my time on here I have seen people with long term insomnia learn to sleep again as well as short term sufferers. It seems to me that insomnia doesn't get better unless you do something about it, pills don't make it better, it just prolongs it. So be brave and try and stay off the sleep pills but maybe keep one or two incase you go for a few nights with no sleep and maybe have to drive or something, but still try to phase them out as you start to sleep better.

    Ve

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi Ve In my case I have to take clonazepam for a movement disorder called dystonia which causes involuntary muscle contractions due to faulty messaging from the brain. This is a strong tranquilliser/sedative which initially helped me sleep very well but years later doesn't really help. Yet coming off it is very difficult and causes a great deal of anxiety and insomnia not to mention much worse muscle spasms so I follow the sleep course taking it – my hospital neurologist says without it the muscular and other symptoms would be so bad I'd probably have to give up my part-time work too.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    I don't think there are any strict guidelines on meds and sometimes due to illnesses or disability they have to be taken. I would imagine any move to wean off them at all should be thoroughly discussed with GP (if you can get an appt. and they listen)!! I have marginally reduced my epilepsy drug (for a movement disorder) which is very sedating whilst doing the sleepio course but am being very careful and am still learning a lot from the course.

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