Why can't I sleep at all without medication?

This question was asked in New London, Wisconsin on 05/13/2013.
I have had this problem for 23 years. I have been taking medications. Is it even possible for me to fall asleep without medicating? When I skip a dose, say if I'm out, I can't sleep even 1 hour, no matter how hard I try.

Doctors Answers (2)

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 5/15/2013

Being unable to sleep for 23 years without medication will be difficult to correct but it can be done with a great deal of effort on your part. We would need to know the name of the medication you take and whether or not the dose has changed over the years. Most of the FDA approved sleep aides we use today are not truly addicting and the consequence of stopping them is usually just reverting to insomnia, not seizures. You would best start with a plan for very gradually decreasing the medication you take and begin what we call Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which includes relaxation methods, biofeedback and imaging techniques. It may take a year to do this.

Vector Sleep Diagnostics Center
Answered on: 5/14/2013

Most likely your sleep-wake cycle shifted towards morning hours- so called delayed sleep phase syndrome. To sort things out and make an accurate diagnosis you need to complete a sleep diary for 1-2 weeks. If this is the case (delayed sleep phase syndrome)- and of course there are some other details that are needed to make an accurate diagnosis- yes, this can be changed. There are treatment options (mostly non medication related, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT) that you may wish to discuss with sleep disorder specialist. Best of luck to you.