In the early gasps of 2020, when war is imminent, the bush is burning, and various other preoccupations seize the mind with the sole intent of sowing unrest, it is difficult to do what you know your body should, which is sleep at night. CBD, a beautifully-marketed scam, is no good. Weed, which usually solves these problems, often causes more—the mind spirals, unable to catch the thoughts rattling around in the brain and shut them up for a minute. Climate change. War. That thing you said that one time. The drone of the person leading the guided meditation you’re listening to in an attempt to find some sort of inner peace or at least, a pause. Hours pass. Dawn approaches. Three hours of fitful “sleep” later and you are awake, bleary-eyed and ready to start another fresh day in Hell.
Generally, I am a person who trumpets my ability to fall asleep peacefully within minutes of my head hitting the pillow and to remain this way for the duration of the evening. However, when circumstances prevent me from doing so, I become agitated in a way that is incurable. My legs itch. The cat shifts slightly at the foot of the bed. A New York Times push notification informing me of imminent ecological disaster or international war buzzes on my bedside table. After an hour or so, I feel as if I am developing bedsores. The cat senses my distress and awakens, tossing her heft at the closed bedroom door until I get up and release her so that she might stare at her food bowl for hours until dawn. Once ensconced in my bed again, I pray for relief.
The internet is a font of advice when it comes to solving this issue and the act of simply researching how to fall asleep when you can’t is sometimes soporific enough to solve your problems. But I have found that the endless cycle of staring at a phone in the semi-dark scrolling for a solution is not the way. The path forward is Unisom, my one true love—a small, blue gel-cap that provides my restless mind with the closest thing to a coma: blissful, uninterrupted, dream-free sleep. It’s over the counter! It’s “non-habit forming.” It’s basically ZZZQuil or AdvilPM and without it, I would not be able to function.
As per the label, it is non-habit forming, and so I can take it every night if I need to without feeling like I will slip into a Valley of the Dolls situation. It eliminates the bedsore feeling and ultimately, sends my body into the sort of deep relaxation that meditation apps promise but never quite deliver. I turn to it in times of stress and great agita, and thankfully, it has never let me down.