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jca's avatar

Do you take any sleep aid, like Melatonin?

Asked by jca (36043points) September 2nd, 2015

Lately I am having trouble sleeping all night. I am a female, 49 years old. I usually go to sleep between 11 and 12, usually closer to 11. I wake up (eyes fly open) around 3 in the morning. I may stay awake until around 6 or 7. That’s the time I should be waking up, but I might try to catch another hour of sleep, then I wake up late for work and groggy.

Maybe one night out of 5 I will sleep all night, which means about 5 or 6 hours of sleep, straight through. 6 hours of sleep is a good night’s sleep, for me.

Even when I sleep all night, I wake up without an alarm clock.

I cut out caffeine after around 12 noon.

Today, I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and deliberately did not go back to sleep because it’s the first day of school for my daughter and I have some important work in the morning, and didn’t want to oversleep. I am sure I’ll feel like crap toward the end of the day.

I have always been against taking medications for sleep and I have a high pain tolerance, so I am really not one to pop pills for anything at all. However, with my sleep difficulties, I am considering something like Melatonin. I don’t want to get addicted, so that’s the main reason I am hesitant.

Do you take anything to help you sleep? Can you discuss it? Can you sleep without it (for example, if you travel and forget to take it with you)?

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35 Answers

longgone's avatar

I don’t, but I’m curious: Do you set an alarm, just in case? When I sleep without setting an alarm, I experience something similar – it’s like my brain doesn’t dare to sleep soundly.

Also, ungh. I feel for you.

jca's avatar

@longgone: No. I have an alarm clock but I haven’t used it in at least 10 years.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Not really ,just over the counter pain killers like extra strength Tylenol for my shoulder..

rojo's avatar

On very rare occasions something along the lines of a Tylenol PM. My wife will take half a Xanax when her brain goes into its obsessive/compulsive mode and refuses to shut off at bedtime. This doesn’t occur very often and when it does it is usually on a Sunday night before the new work week.

Cruiser's avatar

The same exact thing happens to me if I don’t get in my exercise for the day. Minimally a brisk 30 minute walk with the dog will guarantee me to sleep through the night. To help me fall asleep I will take a half of a 25 mg tablet of Benadryl. 10 mins before bed…out like a light. Exercise for me though is key to a good night sleep.

rojo's avatar

Can’t do Benadryl, it puts me to sleep but leaves me groggy and only semi-functional all the next morning.

janbb's avatar

I do take various sleep aids at times because my brain has a hard time shutting off. They help but I try not to take them too often. When I get into a pattern like yours, I take them for a night or two to try to reset my sleep pattern.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I don’t, but at various times I’ve suffered from insomnia. Are you depressed? I’ve heard depression can affect your sleep patterns.

Have you tried getting into a routine before bed? Stop using your computer an hour or so before you go to sleep. Have a warm bath. Drink some warm milk. Masturbate (I sleep like a baby after sex!) See if it helps you sleep for longer.

JLeslie's avatar

Nope. I’ve never taken a sleep aid.

Suddenly, I’m back in a pattern of staying up very late, or going to sleep at a reasonable hour and then waking around 3am and being awake for a couple of hours until I return to sleep. I almost never stay awake, because I have to wake up in a few hours anyway, I almost always give into sleep if I am lucky enough to be sleepy when my pattern is all screwed up, and I just make sure I set an alarm. I believe if I can get at least 1.5 hours for a nap I cycle through the healing time during sleep.

For me, a huge factor in my sleep, is how medicated I am for my thyroid. I recently upped my dose, because my blood pressure was high, and I might have done a little too much, because now I can’t very sleep well. A constant balancing act for me.

ibstubro's avatar

I’ve had the exact thing happen, and I know it’s miserable. Melatonin did nothing for me. In the past I’ve had some relief from getting up for a bit, then laying back down – starting a new sleep cycle. I can sometimes read with dim lighting to get back to sleep. Sexual arousal always seems to help (but, hey, I’m a guy).

rojo's avatar

Arousal doesn’t help, relief (release?) does.

jaceymint's avatar

I felt like your question was so closely related to my experiences that I could have written it, except for the caffeine. I can’t handle it. So, I’ve taken on board lots of helpful suggestions from friends who care to offer them. I can’t take Melatonin because I’m on a blood thinner at the moment. My doctor prescribed Ambien, but that did not help me to stay asleep. My doctor also prescribed a pain killer for my blood clots and that does help me to sleep soundly, but I wake up with a hangover type headache, which is so much worse than not having slept. I also try to take Benadryl occasionally, but it doesn’t always affect me.
I’ve noticed that the days that I get the best rest are days when I feel less depressed, or days in which I’m managing my depression and anxiety better. I try to not go to bed until I’m totally exhausted. I put my phone on “do not disturb” now—not to stop anyone from calling me, but to deter myself from wanting to pick it up and use it. I also make sure I put my tv on the sleep timer. I also put a little bit of lavender oil the inside of my wrists.
While all of these suggestions are great though, none of them have given me proven results every night and the sleep cycle you described seems to occur more nights than not and I’m awake at 2:30 hoping to fall asleep again before I have to be up at 5:00.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My problem is I don’t want to go to sleep! But if I want to get up in the morning, I have to.

For years I’ve taken a Benydryl knock off that I get from the Dollar General. It’s a white bottle, with a pink and white label. The label reads, “Equate Allergy Relief.” The pills are small, oblong and pink. It’s really inexpensive compared to name brand stuff.

I take 3 a night, about 30 minutes before I want to go to sleep. It works perfectly for me. Makes me drowsy, but not stupid. I don’t feel “hung over” the next day, like some sleep aids can do.

One time my husband picked up some generic allergy tablets at Walmart for me. I used them….then felt like absolute shit the next morning. I was jittery and had trouble thinking and concentrating. The pills I use don’t do that to me. I feel fine the next morning.

They aren’t habit forming, either. If I run out, it may be a week or two, or a month before I remember to get some more. I suffer no ill effects other than I don’t sleep as soundly. Also…oddly enough, if I have run out and haven’t taken any, I’ll sometimes start sneezing in the evenings. Not always, and it may be just a coincidence, but there is that.

jca's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit: I’m not depressed and have no anxiety. On occasion, if something is bothering me at work, I’ll blame it on that, but more often than not, there’s nothing bothering me.

longgone's avatar

Maybe try using the alarm clock, if you don’t want to go ahead with drugs yet? I know waking up naturally is much more fun, but your brain might like knowing it can let go.

janbb's avatar

@longgone A friend has told me that that helps her a lot.

jca's avatar

@longgone: I was thinking the same thing today. I think that maybe I am afraid to oversleep. I’m going to take the alarm clock out and see if that works.

Will update the group in a few days.

longgone's avatar

@janbb It makes a lot of sense, too.

@jca Good luck – fingers crossed!

Stinley's avatar

@jca try a clock radio. The music or chat is less abrupt than an alarm. Mine is a bit fancy as it has a second alarm as well so if I do fall asleep again, I know that the alarm will go off

Dutchess_III's avatar

I used to use my old cell phone for an alarm. I set 3 of them, at 15 minute intervals. The first two were kinds of sweetish and gentle, but the last was the opening to Tom Sawyer by Rush. THAT’LL get your ass out of bed!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Years ago, I took a Tylenol PM while on vacation and having to share a bed with my mother. I did sleep well, but the drugged feeling that lingered most of the morning wasn’t worth it.

A month ago, I broke down and tried a melatonin tablet. It was while staying in a hotel the night before a niece’s wedding. The next day was going to be long, I was excited, and what was really needed was a good night’s sleep.

I woke up a few times, but immediately rolled over and went back to sleep. I didn’t wake up as alert as I normally do, but it quickly faded. I’d try it again, but only half a tablet the next time.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I read non-fiction, usually history. I tried OTCs and they slowed me down in the morning. I had way too many patients who took drugs like Ambien—their doctors pushed them—and it made them zombies in the morning and didn’t work after a few weeks anyway,so the doctors would put them on something stronger. It was the road to hell for most them. They didn’t sleep and they were still in a hypnotic state the next day.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes, I’ve found that the prescription sleep aids, and the name brands, all had weird side effects the next morning. In fact, the knock off stuff I use is the only thing that doesn’t have funky side effects.

Buttonstc's avatar

I take Benadryl, either name brand or generic. As long as it says Diphenhydramine (that’s its chemical name). I don’t have a bottle handy, but I’m almost positive that the “Equate” brand is the generic Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) cuz I’ve used it in the past.

I take it more for my sinus congestion than sleep but it does make me slightly drowsy and helps a bit.

It’s certainly not addictive and if I run out or don’t have it with me I can still fall asleep. But I wake up with a lot of sinus congestion.

ibstubro's avatar

Against my better judgement, I’m going to try @Dutchess_III‘s “Equate Allergy Relief. The pills are small, oblong and pink. It’s really inexpensive compared to name brand stuff.”

I think it made me hyper, previously.

Buttonstc's avatar

Some people have paradoxical reactions to antihistamines (as well as other meds) so that you experience the opposite reaction.

rojo's avatar

Gin, but the mornings are hell.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m sure you’ve tried most of these things, but I just came across this news article with tips for how to combat insomnia. Perhaps there’s something here you haven’t tried.

ibstubro's avatar

The little red pills that they use to make meth? Sudafed? Affects me like I expect meth would.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Buttonstc yes, the Equate allergy meds are a Benadryl knockoff. Benadryl itself it too potent for me. It’ll knock me off my feet.

Buttonstc's avatar

They are, by law, the same strength. 25 mg. per pill.

If you check the fine print on your bottle, I’ll bet it reads Diphenhydramine, 25 mgs.

A possible reason for why the two brands affect you differently might be due to whatever binding/filler agents each has.

The law says that genetics only have to contain the exact same amount of the active USP ingredient. Whatever they use for the rest is up to them (as long as it’s food safe, of course).

Dutchess_III's avatar

Maybe it was the expense of the Benadryl that made me woosy!

Buttonstc's avatar



EDIT: Obviously it should be generics rather than genetics.

But my phone thinks it can read my mind and changes it to genetics.


Dutchess_III's avatar

Uh huh. You can’t hide how illiterate you are from US, @Buttonstc! I never even noticed the wrong word in there.

jca's avatar

Update #1: I went to Costco Thursday night and they have a sale on Schiff Melatonin, 3 mg, 300 tablets, $4.49. I bought a bottle. I know Costco is very liberal with their return policies and if it doesn’t work or I change my mind about it, I can return it, even after I open it and use it. This brand also has, besides Melatonin, Valerian root and Vitamin B6, which the packaging states helps in your body’s production of Melatonin.

Someone at work asked why I didn’t buy a smaller bottle at CVS or somewhere like that. I said because the price of 300 at Costco is going to be the same as the price of 100 in a store like CVS. Plus, like I said, I know I can return it to Costco if I decide I don’t want it.

I cut one pill in half so I took 1.5 mg that night. I slept like a baby. I did open my eyes in the middle of the night, was probably awake for 5 minutes and then fell back asleep. I had 7 hours of sleep, from 11:30 pm to 6:30 am – perfect!

I didn’t take it last night (Friday night) and am going to not take any any time soon. This weekend I am going to take out my alarm clock for Monday night (3 day weekend: Labor Day) and see how I do with using alarm clock during the week.

Will update again.

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