I can’t sleep!

As you may already know, I have lyme disease. Leading up to that diagnosis, my life was a mess.

I had a kindergartener, an 18 month old, and an infant. That entire year I went on about 3 hours of sleep a night. I would have trouble falling asleep. I would finally doze off, only to awaken a few hours later, around 2 or 3 am. I would toss and turn, cry and pray for sleep to come, only to doze off minutes before the alarm would go off to get my oldest ready for school. I was living in a mental fog, my heart would race from being so tired, my muscles ached, and my stomach was a mess. I snacked my way through every day just to stay awake.

My healing began with a diagnosis of lyme disease. (Insomnia is a symptom of lyme disease.) We then had something to research and began finding treatments to help. I was advised by my physician to make sure I slept at night. Your body heals from the stresses and traumas of the day while you sleep, and if you are regularly missing sleep, you’re body can’t recover and you end up in a downward spiral. If I was going to get better, I needed to get enough sleep.

My doctor gave me a prescription of ambien. I was reluctant to take it because I had heard horror stories of people getting addicted to sleeping pills and missing out on life. I would take half or 1 pill judiciously, and try then try skipping a night to see if I could sleep. Within a month or two, my body did reset and I could sleep without a prescription.

I did still have bouts of insomnia. It would go in phases, where I could sleep well for a time, but something would throw me out of my routine and I would begin a cycle of less and less sleep. Following are some of the natural treatments that I’ve tried through out the years, and how they worked for me. I’m sharing this just as information. Do your own due diligence, but this might be a starting point to find something that helps for you.

Melatonin: This is a natural hormone that helps your body know when it’s time to enter a sleep cycle. Taking melatonin at bedtime could help your body reset to be sleeping at night, and awake during the day. {I still occasionally take melatonin. Personally, I don’t like it as much as some of the other options I have. When I was so sleep deprived, I felt like I was experiencing sleep apnea when I took melatonin. I remember laying there thinking “Wake up. BREATHE!” and then taking a huge gasping breath. I haven’t had that problem in quite a while. I think I was just so exhausted at the time.}

Sunlight Lamp: A sunlight lamp works well in conjunction with melatonin. Sitting in front of a sunlight lamp every morning helps to reset your circadian rhythms, meaning it helps your body sleep and night, and be awake during the day, not vice-versa. Using a sunlight lamp is also purported to help with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (basically depression due to lack of sunlight all winter).{I think the sunlight lamp helped me, especially in the long winter months without much sunshine. To be honest, I found it really difficult to stay in a routine where I sat by the lamp for 15-20 minutes every morning.}

L-Tryptophan: L-Tryptophan is an amino acid that is necessary for your body to produce serotonin. Serotonin helps control mood and sleep. {I really thought the L-Tryptophan was helpful for me. I would take them just before I went to bed, and I would start to feel calm and sleepy shortly after that. I didn’t feel groggy in the morning after taking L-tryptophan. I switched from it because L-tryptophan can contribute to a sluggish thyroid, and I had symptoms of a slow thyroid.}
L-tryptophan is converted by the body to 5-HTP. 5-HTP is also available as a sleep aid, and is supposed to help with depression. 5-HTP is supposed to be able to cross the blood brain barrier better than L-tryptophan, and therefore be more effective. {I just didn’t notice that the 5-HTP did anything for me compared to the L-tryptophan.}

Sleeptime Tea Extra: Celestial Seasonings has several different types of Sleepytime Tea. It’s a caffeine free herbal tea with soothing and calming herbs such as chamomile. Sleepytime Extra has valerian root in it. {I like the Sleepytime Extra Tea. I still drink it if I’m agitated or not sleepy and it’s time for bed. It helps you fall asleep, and I haven’t noticed feeling groggy at all the next morning. For me, the Sleepytime Teas without valerian didn’t really help much.}

Sleep Powder by Youtheory: This is a powder that you dissolve in hot water and drink before you go to bed. It contains magnesium, L-tryptophan, melatonin, L-glycine, and L-5-HTP. {This did help me fall asleep and stay asleep. I did not like the way this tasted, and it felt like a chore for me to drink the whole cup.}

Alteril: These are caplets that you swallow with water about an hour before bedtime. They include L-tryptophan, glycine, melatonin, and herbs including GABA, valerian, skullcap, hops, chamomile, and passionflower. {These also helped me fall asleep and stay asleep. They did make me feel a bit groggy when it was time to get up, but it wore off quickly. I don’t like taking these for 1 reason. Hops has a really weird, sickly sweet smell to me, and these caplets smell like hops. All said there are some really good, beneficial ingredients to aid in falling and staying asleep, but I just can’t tolerate the smell of it.}

Magnesium: You’re probably already aware of my love affair with magnesium. It’s integral for over 600 processes in the body. It helps with anxiety, and could also help with restless leg syndrome. Magnesium can interact with certain anti-biotics, statins, and heart medications, so check with doc before starting. If you take too much magnesium, it will give you diarrhea. My doctor told me to gradually increase the dose to that point, then back down a bit. That way I would know how much my body really needed. {I recently tried Calm brand of magnesium. It’s magnesium bicarbonate, and it’s flavored. It fizzes, similar to an alka-seltzer when you add it to water. The boys always ask for a sip, because they like the berry flavor. For me, the magnesium really works wonders. I can literally feel the tension melting away, and a sleepy calm feeling come over me. I do still occasionally wake up in the middle of the night when I take the magnesium, so it might not be as effective at helping me STAY asleep as GET to sleep. I twitch ALOT when I’m sleeping. Sometimes that’s what wakes me up, but Josh said that my twitching is less on the nights when I take magnesium.}

As you can see, I’ve tried many different natural sleep aids. Not everything works the same for everyone, but hopefully you can find something to help you get the sleep your body so desperately needs. I’m wishing you sweet dreams!!

This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase after clicking on a link, I will earn a small commission, at no cost to you. All opinions are my own after trying each product through out the past few years.