As someone who had no experience at all with sleeping medication, I did not really know what to expect when taking zopiclone. My sister said it had knocked her out within two minutes, but that she woke up only six hours later. With this in mind, I took my little pill at 10.30 PM, after I already was in bed. I read for half an hour without noticing anything, but after switching the lights off it really was a matter of minutes only until I was asleep. I shortly woke up in the middle of the night and when my husband left for class, but it was not before 9.30 AM this morning that I became fully conscious.
Obviously, I am quite happy about this and hope that my cycle is corrected now so that I will be able to sleep tonight as well, without the help of a hypnotic agent. However, it also was a good demonstration on the limitations of sleeping medication: it was not a refreshing rest, and I have been tired all day long. It felt more like I had been knocked out instead of sleeping, and I did not dream either – which I usually do every night.
The best thing about it was that when my husband came home from class, I was not only awake, but had also showered, dressed, eaten breakfast and opened the shutters. Instead of a zombie-like “…. heyyyyy…” from the bedroom, he got a “Hi!” from the kitchen – and I got a hug in return, because he was so happy to see the zopiclone had helped.
Sleeping problems are a very common symptom of depression, but a lot of publications only focus on insomnia and /or early waking, entirely leaving out hypersomnia. In fact, back when my doctors were still throwing diagnoses like MS into the ring, I myself already suspected it could be depression, but the insistence on insomnia and early waking made me doubt my own feelings: if depression was tied to decreased hours of sleep, I surely could not have that, since as a rule I was sleeping too much.
Early waking is defined as waking up significantly (an hour or more) earlier than one intended to and not being able to go back to sleep, coupled with excessive worrying while lying awake. This happens very rarely to me only, about once or twice per year.
I do have massive problems falling asleep, though,even on my best days. I read that the average healthy adult needs seven minutes to drift off, and while no source for that claim was given, it matches what I see in my husband: once the lights are off, it takes only a few minutes until he’s gone, whereas I stare into the darkness for at least an hour, often longer. About once a year, I will have a period where the problems with falling asleep grow into a full-blown insomnia, even though I have never had it for as long as now.
However, once I am asleep, I usually do not wake up until I had my full share – unless being interrupted by external signals like the alarm clock, of course. According to the IRS-SR, my nine hours of sleep within a 24-hour-period count as slightly elevated; when I first started therapy, I would need twelve. Under the influence of citalopram (at least in the beginning) and before receiving thyroid medication, it would be even more.
I just hope I can get a handle on this now and will have plenty of restful sleep tonight!