Insomnia anyone?

Lately I've been suffering from insomnia. Many people think insomnia refers to a complete lack of sleep.

Actually it includes many sleep problems including: difficulty falling asleep, non-restful sleep, or waking up in the wee hours of the morning. Insomnia isn't new for me, it usually rears its ugly head when I'm dealing with times of stress.

I know my mother, several friends, and co-workers I've known over the years who have suffered from insomnia. The recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours. According to the conversations I have with the majority of my friends and female co-workers, the normal amount of sleep we get is six hours or less.

The negative effects of insufficient sleep can:

*cause fatigue and irritability

*weaken the immune system

*reduce focus and concentration

*cause weight gain and make it hard to lose weight

*exacerbate mental illness, including depression and anxiety

See this article for an extensive discussion on insomnia.

Like many of you, I guess our nation's health crisis has me a little on edge. Insomnia introduced itself to me when I was going through my divorce in 2006. The divorce itself was mutual because we were both unhappy. My stress stemmed from having to adjust to being a single mom to my three year old daughter, organizing a cross-country move from California to Florida (to be near my parents), selling the house in California, and finding a job and house in Florida. So there was a lot on my mind. I was also still working a full time job which came with its own stress.

After putting my daughter to bed, I would later fall asleep without a problem. Around 2:00 am though, my eyes would pop open and hello insomnia.

Sleepless nights ebbed and flowed for a couple of months. I refused to take a sleeping aid because I wanted to be present for my daughter. When I flew to Florida for a job interview and preliminary house search, I told my mother about my insomnia. She gave me an over the counter sleeping aid and assured me she would look after my daughter while I slept. I got the best night sleep I had in months that night.

When I returned back home I tried other methods of curing insomnia without sleeping aids: warm shower before bed, made sure my room was dark and comfortable, finished dinner three hours before bed, no caffeine before bed, but I had absolutely no energy to exercise so that trick I didn't try. If I went more than two straight nights without sleep, then I would put my daughter in bed with me and take a sleeping aid because by then I was running on fumes.

Once we moved to Florida and settled in, the insomnia went away. Whew, sweet relief. Approximately four months into my new job I started going to trial. The caseload at my new job was almost triple my caseload in California so I was in trial every two weeks. My stress returned and so did my insomnia.

The insomnia became the least of my worries when the stress of being in trial constantly sent me to the Emergency Room. In the morning I had called my mother to take me to Urgent Care because I had been dizzy all day Saturday and was still dizzy and lightheaded when I woke up Sunday. My blood pressure reading so high, the Urgent Care Staff called my mother back to the treatment room and told her to rush me to the Hospital down the street immediately! So with my daughter in tow the three of us sat in the ER waiting room until I was admitted. Overview of Hypertension by the Mayo Clinic

The good news is the medication I took to treat my high blood pressure helped me sleep through the night. The bad news, it was only when I was extremely stressed I would get a visit from my old friend insomnia. Of course if I was extremely stressed it meant my blood pressure was really high. I was continuing in that vicious cycle because I was still in trial every two weeks for the five years I lived in Florida. Putting an end to the cycle is how I ended up leaving Florida and moving to Texas nine years ago. I had to make a move which would be good for both my daughter I.

My bouts with insomnia are now few and far between. Melatonin is something I've tried in recent years in addition to other non medication remedies, and it h