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Gone are the days when it was easy for me to go to sleep. In fact, since my late 30’s, I’ve been taking medication to sleep. My doctor then had been in the military. He said my inability to let go and sleep was classic PTSD. It was a term I hadn’t heard before, but after years spent living on the edge—of everything—followed by the death of my first husband and my kidnapping a year later, it made sense.

When I think about it, difficulty sleeping seems like a fair trade for having made it through all of that.

For a long time I tried meditation and hypnosis to help me sleep, but when they didn’t work, I settled on medication. Thirty years later it continues to work well for me, and I’m happy to report I’m still taking only half the dosage originally prescribed. But now that gravity and age are having their way with my face, when I roll over on my side, my face collapses–that may be the wrong word, but you get my drift–onto my nasal passages and makes it difficult for me to breathe through my nose… which prevents me from falling asleep. 

Am I the only one with this problem?

For a while I thought nothing short of duct tape–or a facelift—would help this until I found these sturdy, plastic nasal strips. As long as I don’t have moisturizer on my nose—which prevents the strip from sticking—it works like a charm.

Notice how handsome the guy on the box is? Rest assured… They wouldn’t put a photo of me, wearing a nasal strip, on the front of their box.

The only downside to this strip is it pulls my nostrils open and makes me look like I have a pig snout. I know what you’re thinking, but you’re as daffy as you can be if you think I’m going to show you what I look like wearing one! Let’s just say my nasal passages are open soooo wide… You can see all the way to Tulsa.

It’s probably a good thing Annie’s the only one who sees me with it on.

The strips are great at keeping my nasal passages open so I can breathe, i.e. sleep, but sometimes I worry my nose is gradually getting bigger and wider. Considering our nose continues to stretch and change shape as we age, someday I may really look like Miss Piggy.

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    • Thanks Hilda! I should wear one of those Silence of the Lambs masks, but can’t bring myself to do that. In addition to nasal infections caused by the mask, I think you’d have to be drugged out of your gourd to sleep with one of those on. xoxox, Brenda

  1. I read a book called Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. I can’t think of the name of the drug meant for another purpose (blood pressure?) he mentions that had an unexpected side effect. It helped veterans with PTSD with sleeping and processing their trauma.
    Excellent book. Before I read it I listened to a 2-hour podcast interview of the author (lovely British accent) with an MMA host.

  2. I have such a hard time getting to sleep. I used to take Ambien, but haven’t for a long time. I also have restless leg syndrome so I found a product at Walmart called Legatrin which helps both the legs and has a sleep aid in it. It works and I’m getting my 8, but I don’t fall asleep until I literally pass out about 2 am which means that I don’t get up until 10. I hate sleeping that late, but it seems like the actual act of falling asleep leaves me with a feeling of vulnerability that I can’t seem to handle. I’m actually going to a therapist this week for the first time in my life to work on some of these issues.

    • Brava Rena!!! You should be so proud of yourself for talking to someone about these things. Boy, can I relate to feeling vulnerable during the act of falling asleep! Your comment has reminded me I need to include that in the memoir I’m writing. Like me, you probably already know all the things NOT TO DO before you try to sleep. Tess left a great comment before yours. I’m including a link. At the end of it is the list of things NOT TO DO. Just in case… xoxox, Brenda

  3. The visual of you with these on did make me laugh! My husband uses them and they do work. They only time they don’t work is when he golfs 18 holes…nothing helps then. The only time I don’t sleep well, or wake up much too early is usually when something is worrying me, unresolved issues that type of thing. I’ve lived a fairly quiet life compared to yours, so I can see that sleep would be an issue for you. Glad these work for you.
    Now something to make you laugh. One morning the dog had to go out earlier than usual, so my husband completely forgot about the strip when out with the dog with it on. Wouldn’t you know it a neighbour walking by stopped to chat and asked if he had just had surgery on his nose! lol He seemed interested about the strips and mentioned his wife would be thrilled if we would try them. Have no idea if he ever tried them.
    Have a great day Brenda

    • Hi Jeannette! LOL!!! Thanks for the laugh! I would have been mortified if someone saw me wearing one of these. I’ve never been a natural beauty so no makeup AND the nasal strip? Oh, horrors!! Reminds me of when I was about eight, and my mother had a bright blue facial mask on and was looking out the front window. A little kid up the street rode past on his bicycle, saw mother and screamed. She ran to the bathroom and washed it off. xoxox, Brenda

      • Brenda, I should have added that being the wonderful, supportive wife that I am my response to his story was to laugh hysterically ! The blue mask would definitely would be a scary sight!

  4. I have suffered from insomnia for quite a few years. Both of my sisters have too. Is it genetic or hereditary? Our Mother worked nights as a nurse in the emergency room for the 3pm to 11pm shift because she was a night owl. Not too long ago I took myself off of Xanax. I was tired of being dependent on it. These days my nighttime ritual is chamomile tea, lavender pillow spray, melatonin, eye mask, a nightstand fan and the Breathe Right nasal strips! They really work, but rest assured (pun intended) I don’t think it will permanently give us piggy noses.

    Living on the edge…kidnapping?? Brenda, when are you going to write your memoir?

    • Being a night owl or having trouble sleeping? I don’t know if that’s hereditary or not. Brava for weaning yourself off of Xanax. I weaned myself off of my sleep medication about 20 years ago. For six months I religiously drank chamomile tea and made sure the room was cold and took time to listen to my hypnosis tape and gear down before I turned off the lights. At the time there wasn’t melatonin or nasal strips… plus my face hadn’t fallen over yet so breathing out of my nose wasn’t problematic. Some nights went better than others, but overall, I wouldn’t call it a success, so I resumed my Temazepam. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to sleep! I need eight hours. If I only get seven, I’m not firing on all cylinders! xoxox, Brenda

  5. OMG! You are hysterical. I’ve just weened myself off of a tiny amount of lorazepam because my doctor said it was not a good drug. It affected ones memory. Now I need all the help I can get with my memory. So I’m off that but now wake up exhausted. What is the medication you were on. Maybe I can try that one? Does Melatonin work? I tried it but I don’t know if it did anything. I think you could have a whole web site decimated to the sleep deprived especially if you are going or have been in menopause. That’s when my problems began.

    • Sandy, My sleep problem developed before menopause. I had a complete hysterectomy in my mid-40’s and sailed through menopause with no estrogen, no hot flashes, no problems of any kind. I don’t know anything about melatonin, but I’ve taken Temazepam/Restoril for sleep for 30 years. Memory problems is one of the side effects, but I didn’t have any problems. Then I had chemotherapy for breast cancer and developed what is known as “chemobrain.” It’s wicked! I’m much better than I used to be, but for a few years, I had to write things down if I wanted to remember them. Here’s what I’ve decided about taking sleep medication and the risks: As long as we don’t have dementia or Alzheimer’s, at what age do we decide a good night’s sleep is more beneficial than being a little forgetful? Considering the deadly havoc sleep problems can wreck on our health, I’ll choose sleep every time. xoxox, Brenda

  6. What a visual! Don’t worry, you’ll never look like Miss Piggy! I too have been taking sleep meds (Ambien) for 16 years now, still at the same dose with no side-effects… regardless of how tired I am, I cannot fall asleep. But, as it turns out, I can snore. Luckily, my partner mostly can’t hear! Match made in Heaven. LOL.

    • Donna, I can be “asleep on my feet” but not able to sleep if I lay down. So frustrating! You once said that if you died, you “willed” me and your sweetie to one another! Do you remember that? It was at Cover 3 in SA. I hope that NEVER happens, but if it does, it’s nice to know he’s already used to someone who snores and can’t hear them anyway! LOL!!! xoxox, Brenda

  7. I am 74. realized about a year ago as I tried to go to sleep on my favored left side (best for correcting my scoliosis), that I couldn’t breathe through my right nostril. It has collapsed. Fine upright but closed when laying on my right side. I got the heavy-duty breathing strips and that fixed the problem. Then after a few months, I realized that I only needed it for one nostril so I cut them in half and that has worked great and saved money. Now I get the giggles thinking if I ever shared my life and bed again what I look like at night, not only with the half a strip, but also with all the pillows I use to prop my body up in comfort. Still, life is good and fun and interesting. @sheilamerle1

    • Oh, Sheila!! I’ve had some of those same thoughts… cutting them in half and if I ever shared a bed with someone again. Over the years I’ve shared a bed with my girlfriend numerous times. We’ve been friends since high school. One night, however, I woke up to her beating me with a pillow and screaming, “Shut up! You sound just like my husband.” Now when we travel together, we get two rooms. BTW, I woke up laughing at the situation which just made her madder. I thought it was pretty funny. At the same time I realize she had no alternative for someplace to sleep. xoxox, Brenda

  8. I know of a cocktail of GABA, 5HTP, Ashwaganda, Phosatydilserine, Magnesium, and L-Theanine for sleeping. I’ve tired a few of these ingredients with and without melatonin and they did nothing and I’ve also tried the various herbs that are supposed to be helpful for sleep without much success. I’ve heard some people need a “horse’s dose” of melatonin but I’m afraid to give it a try, maybe I’ll slowly increase the dose…… I’ve heard good things about Restoril, has anyone heard of it? I usually don’t have a problem with falling asleep (a really crazy life, but I’ve gotten into the habit of giving it to God and calming my mind), but I wake after only 4, 5 or 6 hours. That’s even if I watch the caffeine and late night sweet snacks (I don’t drink so that’s not a problem), late night exciting movie watching or doing dishes and house cleaning before bed, etc., so I don’t really know what to do to stay asleep longer. I probably need to exercise more. I love the Breathright strips when I have sinus issues.

    • Oh and I forgot to add that for years I practiced clearing my mind of thoughts if I was laying in bed and I was thinking about stuff until it was naturally what I did when I laid down. I do have a pad of paper and pen in the room (no cell phone) so if I remember “Oh, tomorrow is the last day for me to reschedule my dental appointment or I’ll get charged”, I’ll get up and write it down, tare off the paper and up it on my dresser, then go back to bed.

      • Cat, I do the same thing, but have a tablet and pen on the table next to my bed so I don’t have to get out of bed… A little too disruptive. It also shows we haven’t “cleared our mind” as well as we thought. That’s really hard to do, isn’t it? xoxox, Brenda

    • Cat, Other than the word “Magnesium,” you could be speaking Swahili. I’ve never heard of those other things and haven’t researched them. Be careful with herbs. Just because they’re all natural doesn’t mean they can’t be toxic at some point, plus I don’t known how they’d be with other substances. If we have to take a horse’s dose of anything, I’d be leery of that. Restoril, also known as Temazepam, is what I take. I looked it up a little while ago and found a site with about 76 comments from people who take it or had stopped taking it. Like anything else, it works well for some people and for others… they had problems. I did see a comment from someone who, like me, has taken it for 30 years with no problems, but please don’t take that as an endorsement on my part. Donna left a comment that she’s taken Ambien for 16 years and it works well for her. I tried it once and hallucinated. It also felt like my brain was being rung out like a sponge. That’s the only way I know to describe it. Scared me to death! xoxox, Brenda

  9. Brenda, I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, it I don’t recall any mention of your kidnapping. That must have been terrifying.
    As for sleeping, I’ve recently tried using CBD oil and it helps me to fall asleep more quickly and to stay asleep.

    All the best, Janet

    • Hi Janet, So happy you’ve left me a note! I was taken when I was 38 by the Guatemalan Military Commandos. After I made it home I told a male friend what happened, and he said, “What did you think was going to happen to you, traveling alone in that part of the world?” He made me feel stupid, like I’d “asked for it” so I never told anyone else except for the man I married 8 years later. It was terrifying! Not something for light conversation. I don’t know how men believe that being sexually and/or physically assaulted is the fault of the woman, but… regardless… I’ve kept it to myself. No more! I deliberately haven’t written about it in my blog because my experience is worthy of more than 500 words or less. There’s another part of my life that in some ways, is just as shocking and scary that I haven’t even alluded to. I’m writing about that as well. Happy to hear CBD oil is helping you sleep! It sounds like that stuff is good for almost everything! xoxox, Brenda

  10. Have you tried a NASAL WASH…………that helps my sinus A LOT!
    ALSO, I have just started sprinkling essential oil on my pillow and sheets right before lights out!I am SLEEPING SO MUCH BETTER!NO DREAMS NO WAKING UP!AT the moment I am using PENNY ROYAL.I just started doing this this past week!!!
    I will report in after a month!

    • Elizabeth, I don’t have sinus problems. It’s just that my face falls over and closes off my nasal passage. Thanks for the essential oil tip. Please let me know about Penny Royal. I hope it continues to work for you. xoxox, Brenda

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