How Meditation Helped Me Come Off Of Sleep Medications (Guest Blog by Sarah Kleiner)
Trouble sleeping is one of the main reasons that students come to me to learn to meditate. One of my students, Sarah Kleiner, is a brilliant writer and yoga teacher, and she is also the mother of a profoundly autistic child. Meditation has been a total game-changer for her in many ways, and her most recent blog post discussed how meditation helped her come off sleeping pills. Her writing is honest, brave, informative, and personal. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!
I’ve experienced insomnia for much of my life, and can recall having difficulty sleeping for as far back as I can remember. My mother will be the first to tell you that I was always the child that had a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep – even as a baby.
When I was 18, my father passed away and I experienced life changing depression and insomnia, unable to function in school or daily life.
It was at that young age that I was first introduced to sleep medication.
Insomnia is a widespread problem that millions of people struggle with on a regular basis.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, around 30 to 35 percent of adults experience brief symptoms, whereas 10 percent have a chronic disorder.
With physical symptoms that range from fatigue to severe mood disorders, doctors are increasingly prescribing sleep medications to patients to help them switch off their brains every night.
Most sleep medications are highly addictive, and carry a list of side effects that outweigh the dangers of insomnia. However, this has not stopped the rise of new drugs and prescriptions in the United States.
Back to my story; I have been taking sleep medications ranging from ambien to lunesta to trazedone (which is in a class of “non-narcotics”) for the last 20 years, and when I started meditating in June of 2018, the last thing I ever expected was to lose dependency on my nightly medication.
I’ve read many scientific studies showing a consistent meditation practice in healing the brain to provide better sleep quality, but never thought I would be able to break the sleeping pill habit as I continued to struggle with nightly anxiety.
Within the first week of practicing Vedic Meditation twice a day for 20 minutes at a time, I began to feel my depression and anxiety lessen significantly and my sleep quality improve.
By October of 2018, my mental clarity and sleep quality had improved so much from my daily meditation practice, that I decided I would work with my doctor and a nutritionist to come off of the sleep medication for good.
I had tried many times unsuccessfully to break my sleeping medication dependence, only to deal with nervousness, nausea, irritability and worsened insomnia. I was skeptical at best, but my meditation practice had improved so many other things in my life, I decided to give it a go.
The first few days off of my sleep medication were challenging as I dealt with irritability and increased insomnia, but working with my doctor and my nutritionist to increase my magnesium intake helped tremendously.
As of this writing I have been off of all medication for the last 6 weeks, and I no longer have the daytime grogginess, confusion and occasional headaches that came along with my sleep medication. My nighttime anxiety and restlessness have all but disappeared, and if they resurface, I use my meditation technique to fall asleep effortlessly.
Improved sleep quality is just one of the many benefits of meditation that I have experienced, and I’m excited to continue my practice to see what happens next.