Tuesday, April 5, 2011

#55 - Insomnia

Insomnia has become a thorn in my side. My concept of insomnia sure did change after I developed Addison's disease. Without cortisol, we don't have the natural hormone that gives us the get-up-and-go shove that we need to get through our day. And...since cortisol normally has a natural tapering by the end of the day, it allows for your body to relax and go to sleep with better ease.

I'm Jealous
Well, for those of us with Addison's, it works a bit different. All natural hormone regulation in this area is kaput. Instead, we synthetically "regulate" our system and this often includes extreme difficulty in tapering for night-time because we still rather like our cardio-vascular functioning to continue, so we can't purge our body of the synthetic version just for night-time sake. The synthetic version ends up staying in our system, sometimes in amounts that directly interfere with the body's ability to visit la-la land.

It appears that many with Addison's, myself included, need another synthetic solution to help the body come down off the day's steroid dosages enough to truly get a good night's rest. This is helpful especially if you are battling a chest cold, stomach virus, etc. and have had to double your dose to the stress dose level. Even under the best of circumstances, this might leave you a bit wired come night-time.

I used to tell my husband that I felt as if I had copied the "Elvis Presley Plan" with needing my Hydrocortisone to get me up and running early in the day and as night approaches, I need my downer, my Ambien so that I may have a chance to fall asleep before daybreak. And, remember, I am low-dose Hydrocortisone regiment.

For years, I struggled for my body to get better rest, but as the other battles with health made the Addison's Disease more challenging to control, I was forced to address compounding issues. So, lately, when I have a tough night, I can take a little Ambien and usually get four hours straight sleep. A little bit of solid sleep will do anyone a lot of good.

For a while, I was depressed about needing this help to fall asleep. But, on nights like this, when I am wired, unable to sleep and am frustrated that my body will not abide by my wishes and my desires, then I am stuck having to trick it with a little white pill. My little friend, "Ambien" will come to my rescue and knock the little insomnia-bug out of me. Thank you Ambien.

Hopefully, you won't have to eventually resort to these methods to regulate your own body. It took me nearly ten years of having this disease before these things became necessary. But, there are always newer and better medications to come to our rescue. For now, I am glad to get some sleep and be ready to take my next round of "uppers" in the morning, per my "Elvis Presley Plan." Difference plan does not involve any recreation, it is only my way of staying alive for another day and in a way that's not really very glamorous.


  1. I know what you mean about being depressed about needing another medicine to make things work. I like you're 'Elvis Plan' name, it keeps things lighthearted and sometimes that makes all the difference! :) btw, I had a pannini at a restraunt last night called the Elvis... pb, bannana and bacon. It was yummy. :)

  2. I am very fortunate that I am usually able to sleep. There are nights that I find it harder to sleep, but rare. I also find that hydrocortisone makes me sleepy, drowsy when I am needing a stress dose. There are times it can wire me but there are some of us who react with the being sleepy. We are all so different and have such varied experiences.


  3. Hey Jo, I've also found that a small dose can help me feel overall better so that I can rest, but it is such a fine line for me. My natural tendency is to bounce off the walls, but my body just doesn't do what I want it to do - especially when I need it to do it! I feel fortunate cause it seems other Addisonians are on very high powered sleep medications, so there seems to be a wide spectrum with how it affects each of us at night time. I'm really interested to see how others deal with any insomnia issues exacerbated by steroids...or to see if it doesn't impact them. :-)

    Lana C.

  4. Sleep meds....drugs...or else I don't sleep!

  5. I take an ambien every night and have found my quality of life with Addison's is so much better. Sleep is so very important! I feel badly to have to depend on it as well, but I depend on hydro-cortisone and fludrocortisone to keep me alive, so I guess, in the scheme of things, I am lucky I have a medication that allows me to get the rest I need to chase my 6 yr old around all day!


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