Health Travel Stories

Beware of the Sleeping Pill…

Pills vitamin supplementsJet lag can be a bitch. Let’s face it. If you’ve crossed the International Date Line, you’re  bound to have some trouble adjusting to the massive time difference. After all, when it’s noon here in NYC, it’s 1:00am in China (or midnight if the US is on Daylight Savings Time).

Let’s flashback to August 2006. I was preparing to head to Thailand for the first time for my study abroad. In an attempt to help me with the time difference, my doctor had written me a prescription for Ambien, a really powerful sleeping pill. He told me I should take it half an hour before going to sleep.

I arrived in Bangkok after a very, very long day, having literally spent the past 24 hours in transit. I spent my first few nights staying with the friend of a friend and his Thai wife, both of whom I had never met before. They lived in a lovely house in the outskirts of town, where I had my own room with attached private bathroom. It was, by far, the nicest accommodation I would experience for months, though I did not know that then.

Like many travelers coming from North America, I had arrived at midnight. I had barely slept on the plane and was ridiculously exhausted. But I had just arrived in exciting Bangkok. I was with brand new, exciting people and was suddenly bursting with energy.

So, at 1:30am, I took my doctor’s advice and popped an Ambien. Knowing that he said to take them 30 minutes before sleeping, I did something really, really stupid: I took a shower.

This is where things started to get a little fuzzy.

I remember getting into the shower and turning on the water. The world started whirling and I seem to remember falling over.

Next thing I knew, it was 10:00am. I was in bed, in my pajamas, all the lights were off and the water was off. In fact, it looked as if nobody had even been in the bathroom.

I was stumped. I asked my hosts if they’d heard anything or helped me, which they hadn’t. And I still, to this day, have no recollection of what happened between 1:30am and 10:00am. It’s fairly obvious that I fell asleep in the shower, but I seriously have no history of sleepwalking (to the best of my knowledge).

You hear all those crazy stories about people on sleeping pills doing all sorts of crazy things in their sleep…sleep cooking or sleep driving, but you never really think anything funky like that can ever happen to you!

So, the lesson here? Don’t take a sleeping pill and then go do something. Take a sleeping pill and get into bed! Heck, maybe you’re even better off strapping yourself in there!

Have you had any interesting experiences with sleeping pills?


By Aaron

Hey there! I'm Aaron and this is my travel site, where I document my adventures to all corners of the world. My love for travel started at the ripe old age of four, when a midlife crisis uprooted my family to Ecuador for five years. Since then, I've been to countries on 4 different continents. When I'm not blissfully on the road, I reside in New York City, where I become the ultimate travel junkie and spend my days dreaming up my next great adventure! Read More...

6 replies on “Beware of the Sleeping Pill…”

After all my travels, I’ve actually never taken a sleeping pill. I have had some similar experiences mixing wine, beer, liquor and, one time, a cigar!

It’s probably for the best! Any funky experiences from mixing various other substances??

Yeah, big oops there. LOL When I pop an Ambien, I’m in bed within 5-10 mins because once it starts kicking in, it can be a challenge to even walk. Glad you didn’t get injured or anything.

Now that’s some sound advice! It was my first time taking Abien so I didn’t know better! That said, I’ve taken Ambien without issue since and even gone to go brush my teeth before getting into bed. I’m sure the fact that I’d been up for like 36 hours really didn’t help either!

Wow…crazy experience!! It’s almost like when one has had anesthesia/surgery and feels that peculiar sense of ‘lost time.’

I’ve taken Ambien a few times and don’t care for it. If it doesn’t work, you feel really out of it. It made me hallucinate once, believe it or not! If I’m traveling and trying to make sleep happen (on a flight or once I’ve landed), I use Xanax and/or antihistamine. They seem to work ok, but if they don’t for some reason, you’re also left feeling quite messed up (but not quite as bad as with Ambien).

I wouldn’t have felt a sense of lost time if I had fallen
asleep in bed! 🙂

But the grogginess is a problem with any sleep
medication if you don’t get a full 8 hours of sleep. Nowadays if I
need something I take Melatonin, which is a natural chemical your
body uses to regulate sleep.

Oh and the morning after this happened
I woke up nice and refreshed!

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