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Where’s the Off Switch !

I have had quite a bit of trouble getting to sleep recently. It is well documented that recovering Addicts and Alcoholics face this problem (among many other things). The mind and body begin to wake from the constant repression that drugs and alcohol have unleashed on them and we begin to wake up. Our nervous system slowly begins to recover and our brains start functioning again. As well as suddenly seeing life in glorious Technicolor again we have to deal with a huge surge in our thought processes. Don’t get me wrong, everybody is different. This was however, my experience.

With this sudden rush of blood to the head (as it where), our sleep patterns (not to put too finer point on it) go to hell in a hand basket. Not that I ever slept when I was drinking/using…I just blacked out. Well it’s a bit like sleep isn’t it?

The short answer to my own question is no! I know about REM sleep and all that it brings (Dreams etc). As an Addict I didn’t really experience dreams, and if I did they more often than not would fall into the nightmare category. There was a simple solution to that …more drink/drugs or a cocktail of both. There we go one Off Switch for the use of. Put more simply I could switch off really easily with the help of Alcohol and Drugs, and go back to just being , not thinking, not remembering, not worrying, having no social awareness…and the list goes on.

So as an addict I had my alcohol and drugs to switch me off. Now I have made the choice to remove alcohol and drugs from my life, so where’s the Off Switch?

Well from what I have learned so far there isn’t one all encompassing answer/panacea. I know that we live in a society that seemingly has an answer or cure for just about everything, and that we are constantly bombarded with advertising for products that solve x,y or z problems, but some of life’s problems just are not solvable in thirty seconds flat.

I could just go to my doctor and ask him/her for some sleeping pills, but that solution just raises further questions (for me anyway). Are the pills addictive (chemically or otherwise)? Will I suffer from withdrawal symptoms from the pills? Will I experience REM sleep or will they just knock me out? I guess what I am trying to say is that there really is no “quick fix” for problems like this (For me anyway). Someone mentioned to me just this week that you won’t be able to sleep if your body is tired but your brain is still awake and vice versa, if you think about that statement it does make sense.

For example you may have gone to the gym and had a really good workout , so your body is tired, but your mind has not really been stretched in any way. You are aware of this, so you decide to read a book before bedtime to try and redress the balance. The book however gets you thinking and even after you have gotten into bed and turned the lights out you are still thinking about what you have read, you toss and turn all night and “wake up” the next morning feeling like the living dead.

I guess what I get from this is that my life needs balance. I also need to learn to relax, and learn that “it’s ok just to do nothing sometimes”. I’m still looking down a number of different roads, meditation looks to be good. I did a meditation session this week with a bunch of other people, and while we where meditating someone fell asleep. I happen to know the person that fell asleep, and I see a lot of similarities between us (I also have a huge amount of respect for that person as well). I came away from the experience with a clear mind, and guess what…I slept really well that night!

Final Thought:

To sum everything up I guess its just a case of go with whatever works for you. If tablets work for you then brilliant, if they don’t then don’t despair, there are other solutions, try and think outside the box, and you know what, it’s ok to have a bad nights sleep. Then again you could just jump online and read this weblog…it may send you to sleep 🙂


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