Where did my lunesta butterfly go?
September 15, 2008 10:23 AM   Subscribe

Why does lunesta sometimes work beautifully and sometimes do nothing at all?

Yes, I'll be asking my doctor, but it's going to be a few weeks before I can see him so I thought I'd see if could get a little info before then.

Probably too much background: I am a 27 and have had serious insomnia since I was 14 or 15. Even younger, at 11 or 12, I thought it was normal for it to take 3 hours to fall asleep. Most of my family suffers from insomnia to one degree or another. I have anxiety problems, but so far, nothing I've done to treat (rather successfully) my anxiety has had any effect on my insomnia at all. My insomnia is characterized by a brain that just will not turn off. It's like a treadmill of negative thoughts, snippets of songs, and just general brain static.

I took ambien on and off for a couple of years. Whenever I was off it, the only way I'd sleep at all was to have a rigid, almost OCD schedule. I had to be home by 6PM, eat dinner at a specific time, bath at a certain time, watch a certain amount of TV, dim the lights at a certain time, do deep breathing, etc, etc. and it still took me at least two hours to fall asleep. My life basically revolved around bedtime.

Melatonin did nothing and benedryl (i.e. sominex) actually makes me a little wired. Rozeram was useless.

Ambien generally worked quite well. Some nights I could break a 5 mg tablet in half and that would do it. Sometimes I needed a full 5 mg and during periods of stress I needed 10 mg. Toward the end, the ambien was not quite as effective as it had been (not a surprise). That combined with the fact that doctors generally aren't nuts on long term ambien use got me switched to 3 mg of lunesta in February.

At first, it was the best sleep of my life. I could even cut the pill in half on nights when I was very relaxed. After a while, it stopped working so well. Then it kicked back in. Now, once again, I take it and have no effect at all. Even a full pill leaves me on the mental treadmill, tossing and turning all night.

Any ideas why lunesta sometimes feels like a gift from god and sometimes leaves me in the lurch?
posted by mostlymartha to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
IANAD. However, for me Lunesta worked most of the time. I take it for my Fibromyalgia and for the last year and half it's rocked. Although I did discover that there is a real narrow window of effectiveness. If I take it at 10.30, I should lay down and be in bed by 11. If I wait until 11.15 or try to go to bed at 10.45, I just lay there.

Of course, in the last few weeks I've noticed that I'm not sleeping solid. I'm waking up in the night so I've switched to a different treatment. But the only times I had a hard time falling asleep on lunesta was when I tried to power through the window. Then it was hell.
posted by teleri025 at 10:46 AM on September 15, 2008

I take Imovane, and I agree with the first answer; there seems to be a fairly limited window.

I've done very similar OCDish rituals myself. I saw a sleep specialist recently, and he pronounced that unhelpful; I considered his advice, and pronounced it unhelpful. A little ritualizing + Imovane = sound sleep without so much of the life-revolving-around-bedtime problem.

Benadryl makes me paranoid, but I found recently, via accident while trying to ditch some hay fever, that half a Chlor-Tripolon plus half an Imovane = sleep, without the wired paranoia of just an antihistamine. YMMV.

You've heard of delayed sleep phase syndrome? I ask because you did manage to fall asleep after three hours etc.
posted by kmennie at 11:46 AM on September 15, 2008

Response by poster: Kmennie: I hadn't heard of delayed sleep phase syndrome, but it's interesting. Even on my very worst insomnia nights, I generally fall asleep between 5:00 and 6:00 AM. I don't, however, necessarily have sound sleep (I often wake up after a REM cycle five hours in even though I'm not actually rested enough to make it through a whole day). Still, a lot of that sounded familiar. My core body temperature seems to have a lot to do with it; the poorer I'm sleeping, the hotter I feel, so I suspect my body isn't doing that normally.
posted by mostlymartha at 12:05 PM on September 15, 2008

It's probably a confluence of tolerance to the drug, and just how wired you are that day/week/month. Is it possible that on the nights that it doesn't work, you are not doing your "glide slope toward sleep" activities? And/or, are suffering unusual stress or workload, and your spinning mind wins the fight against the drug?

One thing that has helped me calm that anxiety is to write down the things I'm currently worried about. Like, for example, head hits the pillow and the lights go out. And then, "...shit I forgot to send in that report. Don't forget to get gas in the morning. Put the clothes in the dryer so I'll have dry pants to wear. Gotta rent that carpet cleaner on Saturday. And oil change!..." And so on, forever. So, I write down those "action items". Now I know I've done everything I can for those things, which makes it way easier to silence that anxiety.
posted by gjc at 6:54 AM on September 16, 2008

Are you taking it on an empty stomach? The emptier, the better.
posted by Addlepated at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2008

« Older What to do with my small 403(b)   |   What's a good architecture catalog website? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.