Full Dark, No Sleep…

(With apologies to Stephen King)


Pray – pray very hard – to whatever gods there might be that you never lose the ability to sleep. It’s a horrendous experience and can undermine your emotional and mental stability, and after the better part of 2 months with no useful sleep (2-3 hours, if I’m lucky), I was coming seriously unravelled.

A major part of my problem is that I can’t lie down – if I do, I can’t breathe, my herat doesn’t work properly, and the pain in my chest is unbearable, so since the end of January I’ve slept on the couch, sitting up – now that’s taking its toll too, with increasing pain and insomnia.

I sit here during the day, on the couch at night – great fuckin’ life, huh?

I’ve tried various remedies, including a herbal hop and valerian tablet which is normally helpful – nothing worked. The only sleep I got was on Thursdays when, full of booze I’d crash for 12 hours – not really a long-term solution!

Anyway, under normal circumstances I don’t drink at home, or drink very little – half a dozen bottles of beer will last a couple of months, for example –but in desperation I figured it was worth a try. Not having any booze, I thought I’d buy some cheap spirit – no point in anything expensive for medicinal purposes – but Sainsbury’s had Russian Standard vodka discounted by a third, so I gave that a try.

For me, drinking vodka is akin to drinking lamp-oil, an utterly charmless experience, but this is wonderful stuff, almost as complex, in its way, as gin. So, half an hour after taking my last dose of Co-codamol for the day, plus my nightly Amitryptilline, I had three ounces of vodka, and slightly more of orange squash. Done that for two nights now.

The first night I had 7.5 hours sleep, with a very brief meds break at 06.00. Last night it would have been over 8 hours, had it not been for a 90-minute or so pain break from about 05.30 until my 06.00 meds finally kicked in. Deeply unimpressed with that.

Still, it’s a solution, and might help to re-establish normal sleep patterns, not least because there is no prospect of sleep, yet, before 02.00.

And yes, I know all about the potential for problems combining drink with drugs (neither would be effective on its own), and frankly, I don’t care, I need sleep and I’ll take it any way I can get it. If anyone gets the urge to lecture me, think again; I’m not in the mood.

I did try, on two occasions, taking a single dose of 60mg DHC at night (it’s more effective than 30/500 Co-codamol). They didn’t actually do much, though, and on both mornings I woke with my lungs full of fluid again – on just one dose! It’s absurd, but it’s clear that I simply can’t take DHC any more. At all.

So anyway, I have at least a temporary solution, and tomorrow is pub day, followed by the one night in the week I can be sure of sleep (though Sod’s Law might make me regret saying that). Hopefully, the vodka will continue doing its job on the other nights and, I’ll be able to reduce it over a period, until I can sleep without its help.

It might not continue to be vodka – it depends what’s on offer – but what it won’t be is Sainsbury’s Basics vodka, an industrial blend of ethyl alcohol** (of unknown origin), and water, while Russian Standard is distilled from fermented Russian winter wheat, which imbues it with complex flavours just as it would if made into bread, by which I do not mean generic, white, Chorleywood crap, but good artisan bread.

**The alcohol in all booze is ethyl alcohol.

Talking of which, it’s bread day and I have some baking to do myself…

4 thoughts on “Full Dark, No Sleep…

  1. Hi Ron,

    So sorry to hear you having such a terrible time with sleep. Sadly, I think many people underestimate the effects of sleep deprivation, which can be very serious even in individuals with no medical issues / diagnoses whatosever.

    As for lectures, don’t worry, you won’t find any here! My only concern with anyone who’d written the above post was to be certain they knew about the issues when combining drink with meds, but I know that you are fully aware of this, and in general you come across as a very sensible and intelligent person.

    Ultimately, you need to do what you have to. I’m sure you’ve weighed up different options (and there aren’t that many for ongoing sleep problems really; even for people who can take hypnotics or benzodiazepines, this can only ever be for short periods) and you’ve found something that works for you.

    Anyway, here’s to a good night’s sleep and hopefully regular decent sleep in the future!

    P.S. That Sainsbury’s stuff sounds vile – I’d rather use it to clean a kitchen worktop than as a beverage!

    • Hi,

      Remarkably, a short while ago I spontaneously fell asleep. That’s not happened for a while, though I suppose watching one of the worst movies ever made helped!

      Still tired too (and despite the lack of sleep I haven’t been feeling tired – probably gone past that and out the other side). So I’m going to shut this thing down, get my head down, and try to capitalise on it without booze.


  2. hi ron i to suffer never ending pain and sleepless nights have tried the bevy with my medication DHC continus 120mm twice daily no longer works one beer now and i am ill so i dont know whats next , but if it works for you good on you mate

    • Hi John,

      Well, if it’s any consolation, it didn’t work last night!

      And I found that I got better pain management from normal DHC, 60mg every 6 hours – same total dose but, for some reason, more effective. Might be worth a try.


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