Sep 1997; San Diego, CA, USA: FILE PHOTO; San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau (55) at Jack Murphy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Brouillet-US PRESSWIRE

Seau Suffered from Insomnia for Years

In a USA Today report on Friday, the news came out. Seau had been relying on prescription medicine just to be able to sleep at night.

The extensive piece of reporting and digging done by the staff at USA Today should be commended. They interviewed over 50 of Seau’s friends and relatives in an attempt to put the jigsaw puzzle of Seau’s post-NFL life together.

Shortly after Junior Seau tragically took his own life on May 2nd of this year, I reported the heartbreaking news here on and theorized he suffered from some sort of Traumatic Brain Injury or injuries during his long career. Although never “officially” listed of having had any concussions, the climate among coaches and players both used to be “ah, he just got his bell rung, he’ll be fine.”

These days we know better.

Ambien is the sleep drug Seau was taking. Seau also was known to abuse alcohol, contrary to warnings with the medication’s package insert and label not to mix it with alcohol.

The FDA warns that patients suffering depression could have suicidal thoughts with the class of drugs that contains Ambien.

Furthermore, he apparently used the drug at least as far back as 2005, still in his playing days, when one of his ex-teammates visited him in Miami during his tenure with the Dolphins.

UNC researchers say that sleep disorders are common in people with TBIs – Traumatic Brain Injury. The USA Today report says that the family hasn’t decided whether or not to donate Seau’s brain for study of the long-term effects of concussions on brain cells and the overall organ.

For those of you that are very sensitive to unpleasant details, you should close this article now and stop reading it. You’ve been warned.

On a personal note, I can understand the family’s reluctance to say yes to the request, but they’re facing emotions the rest of us hope we never have to face. Junior may have thought an entire bottle of Ambien might not do the job as he had been dependent upon it and probably had built up some sort of tolerance to it if that’s possible with that type of drug. He had to know a gunshot inside his mouth would end things quickly and painlessly, but shot himself in the chest to suffer and bleed to death instead.

When I ask myself “Why?” The answer seems clear: He still had enough rational thought about him to know that if he took the “easier” path – if one can call either path “easy” – his brain would be destroyed and useless for study. I think the manner in which he did what he did speaks a lot about his own intentions concerning the aftermath.

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Tags: Junior Seau Miami Dolphins Traumatic Brain Injury

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