Ep 21. Sleep Meds and Inner Conflict

Jan 23, 2024

Sleep meds were the absolute BANE of my existence.

I loathed taking them but also really needed them, which entangled me in a web of constant worry about the impact they were going to have on my life.

But here's the twist...

That changed pretty quickly once I understood what insomnia was and why it was happening.

In today’s episode, I share the ups and downs of my personal journey and explore the Mind. Body. Sleep. mentorship’s unique stance on medication during insomnia recovery.

Then, I talk about where the real conflict lies and why it’s not as straightforward as you might think.

Lastly,  I share what FINALLY got me off medications for good, and how the experience changed how I view meds in general.

Key highlights include:

  • Why it goes beyond JUST medication 
  • How our beliefs play a role
  • Why I struggled SO much during my own journey
  • How working with a sleep coach can be a game-changer
  • Integrating medications into the recovery process
  • Where true freedom lies

Join me in this transformative episode to change your outlook on sleep meds as you navigate the recovery path.

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Full Transcription Below:

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About Beth Kendall MA, FNTP: 

For decades, Beth struggled with the relentless grip of insomnia. After finally understanding insomnia from a mind-body perspective, she changed her relationship with sleep, and completely recovered. Liberated from the constant worry of not sleeping, she’s on a mission to help others recover as well. Her transformative program Mind. Body. Sleep.™ has been a beacon of light for hundreds of others seeking solace from sleepless nights. 

DISCLAIMER: The podcasts available on this website have been produced for informational, educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this podcast do not constitute medical or professional advice. No person listening to and/or viewing any podcast from this website should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of a podcast without first seeking appropriate professional advice and/or counseling, nor shall the information be used as a substitute for professional advice and/or counseling. The Mind. Body. Sleep. Podcast expressly disclaims any and all liability relating to any actions taken or not taken based on any or all contents of this site as there are no assurances as to any particular outcome.


Navigating the Sleep Meds Conundrum


Hello everyone! Thanks for tuning into the show today. 

This week’s topic on sleep meds I think is a widely relatable one and it’s something that I struggled with greatly during my own journey through insomnia, so I wanted to talk a little bit about it on the podcast.

Medical Disclaimer

Now I want to do a double disclaimer right away that I am not a medical doctor and nothing that I say should be taken as medical advice or medication advice, so do always consult with your physician around any decisions you make about medications.

In today’s episode, I want to first share a little about my own experience with sleep meds, as well as the perspective the Mind. Body. Sleep. mentorship takes on medications during insomnia recovery.

Then I’m going to talk about where I think the real conflict lies when we’re talking about medications and why it’s often a little more nuanced than we think.

And lastly, I’m going to share what finally helped me get off the medication merry-go-round and how the experience changed my personal beliefs about medications in general.

Mentorship Perspective

Now, the first thing I want to say about medications is that the Mind. Body. Sleep. Mentorship is a medication-neutral program. Meaning it doesn’t matter if you are taking medications, or not taking medications, your ability to recover from insomnia is the same. I have seen so many people recover from insomnia regardless of med status that at this point, I don’t see it having any real bearing on the ability to recover from insomnia. So, if this is something that you’re really worried about, I personally haven’t seen it be a significant factor in the recovery process.

Now, my own journey with sleep meds was really fraught with a tremendous amount of inner struggle and conflict.

Personal Experience

I hated medications but I also needed medications, and it was this feeling and this fear that I was going to be chained to them for the rest of my life that caused me a lot of suffering.

I worried a lot about long-term side effects, and I think what scared me the MOST was this fear that I was going to run out of meds that actually worked. Because everything seemed to stop working eventually and then I’d be back at square one scrambling to put together all of these crazy combos and supplements and I was always worried that my doctor was going to cut me off or there’d be no more meds left on the market for me to try and I just hated that I was reliant on meds. And the stakes just got higher and higher over time which I don’t think is ever a great feeling.

And you know, I just had a very stoic nature around the use of meds in general. I felt like they represented a weakness in me personally. And I wasn’t just stoic about sleep meds, I was pretty opposed to all meds and would often equate not succumbing to something as basic as an Advil, even after having a horrible headache for hours, as a sort of win, right? A personal victory. And I prided myself on being able to tough things out without relying on medication.

And this comes from a lot of the hyper-independence patterns I developed in early life along with the no pain, no gain mindset that was very much built into my psyche as a young girl growing up in the ballet world.

So, to be in the situation I was in with sleep meds was really hard on me and I felt like I was failing at this very basic thing that everyone else seemed to be able to do no problem. And even with meds, sleep often wasn’t great so I was basically just limping along with them year after year trying to get relief where I could.

Unveiling the REAL Conflict

But you know, here’s the thing that’s so mind-bendy about medications… The significance of medication isn’t on the medication itself. It’s what we believe about the medication and our perception of the role it plays in our life that dictates our experience of it. Medication itself is neutral, it’s neither good nor bad. I’ve seen it be helpful, and I’ve seen it be not so helpful. It’s our thoughts about medication and our minds interpretation of what it means about us that informs how we experience it.  

And I can give you a really good example of this using my parents:

So my mom takes sleep meds every night and has for years and it’s not a problem. She’s very glad that these meds exist and there’s no worry or guilt about what it means about her or her sleep and she’s not forecasting a time in her life where they’ll no longer work, or her doctor is going to cut her off. And even if they did stop working, she would just figure it out or use a different sleep med. So, basically, there’s no inner conflict for her around taking meds. And of course, as a flight attendant, I saw this many times in the airline industry. People were very glad to have the help of a sleep med to deal with the all the crazy schedules and generally speaking, there wasn’t any guilt or shame about this.

Now, my dad would also periodically take sleep meds. And I don’t think he does anymore because he had insomnia and recovered from it watching my curriculum videos while I was creating Mind. Body. Sleep. a while back which is pretty cool. But when he did take sleep meds, there was a lot more inner conflict about it. He just didn’t like that he had to take them, and he would often ration them out ahead of time, or rotate them, or plan ahead and I think they made him really groggy the next day. So the idea of taking meds for him, just didn’t resonate even if it was only occasionally.

And so, these are two very different experiences of sleep meds with two people who live in the same environment.

So in the context of insomnia, most of the struggle that I see from sleep meds comes from our perception of the meds more than the meds themselves and this is where it can be really helpful to work with a coach. Because even though we can’t give medication advice, we can help you move through the experience of taking meds and coming off of meds with a lot more ease and grace.

And you know, this became so clear to me during my personal journey because my own beliefs about meds and the role they played in my life changed pretty dramatically. I was much more like my dad for most of my life but then became more like my Mom post insomnia…

So let me talk a little bit about how the tables turned with sleep meds.

Breaking Free From the Medication Cycle

Once I understood what I was dealing with when it came to insomnia, I had a pretty big immediate shift. My sleep didn’t get better for a while, but my thinking about it changed pretty quickly.

Understanding that my mind had created a negative association with not sleeping helped me also recognize that all of the thoughts, beliefs and eventual identity I created from that association weren’t really true.

So with that realization, meds took on a much different role in my life. It was like suddenly they weren’t something that was going to be my forever situation, they were something that was actually going to prove useful on my way out of insomnia.

My minds interpretation of taking sleep meds just completely changed.

I’ve talked quite a bit about my recovery process on the podcast, but meds ended up being something that I used off and on for about a year, even after I understood what I was dealing with.

And I was much more okay with that than I was before because I no longer believed my fear. I understood that there had never been anything inherently wrong with my ability to sleep, my mind had just been running this belief system for 42 years.

And even though my sleep didn’t really come online right away, this also wasn’t concerning to me because I had already recovered my physical health after being down with Lyme disease for many years. And that all started with thinking and approaching health differently BEFORE it manifested in realized health.

And so for me, medication became a part of the recovery process versus this ball and chain that I was stuck with for the rest of my life.

Embracing Medication in Recovery

And it was amazing how much better it worked from that vantage point because all of the inner conflict and  worrying and forecasting and analyzing and researching just came to a halt…

I wasn’t adding fuel to the fire anymore.

So, I took meds when I really needed them or when hyperarousal was high. There were times during speed bumps that I needed to be functional, or I just wanted to be able to enjoy my life without feeling like a zombie, so I took meds.

I no longer identified with the idea that pain was the only path to gain, especially when it came to something as simple as sleep. And I was just so much more laid back in general about the whole thing and that really ended up being what helped me.

Because the whole paradoxical thing in all of this is that when I gave myself permission to take meds, that lifted all the judgment and pressure off the situation — and it was in THAT freedom that I intuitively knew when I didn’t need to take them anymore.

And that’s how I eventually got off of them. There was no deadline, no timeline, no goal, no fear, no pressure. I was just far enough from the fear that hyperarousal didn’t overwhelm me anymore and I just didn’t feel like I needed the help.

And that has transferred over in some ways to other meds…

Transformation of Personal Beliefs 

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m super big of Pharma and just automatically taking meds for everything, because that is not it at all. I think it’s absolutely bananas that we have pharmaceutical commercials here in the US and I think it just primes our brains to accept labels and automatically look for solutions outside ourselves, but I have made peace with things like taking an Advil, okay?

My cost benefit analysis of certain situations has changed. Meaning, I see more value in taking an Advil that I do sitting with a headache for six hours and missing out on the enjoyment of life. So, I’ve become much more tempered and moderate at this stage in my life.

I hope that something here was useful for you today. I want to give a big, huge thank you to those of you that have left a rating or review. If you’re struggling with your sleep, or you’re worried about your sleep right now, just remember that everything you need to sleep is already within you.

I’m Beth Kendall and this is the Mind. Body. Sleep. podcast… I’ll see you next time.

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