Report: Friends say Junior Seau had insomnia, took sleep aids

Junior Seau reportedly suffered from sleeplessness for years. (Getty Images)

It's been nearly a month since former NFL linebacker Junior Seau took his own life. In the days and weeks after his death, the conversation always returned to how a man habitually described by friends and colleagues as having a passion for living could intentionally shoot himself in the chest.

Twenty years in the NFL, including countless collisions and undiagnosed concussions were often cited as explanations. (Earlier this month, Seau's family was unsure about whether to donate Seau's brain to researchers.)

One of the side effects of traumatic brain injuries are sleep disorders, and according to a recent USA Today report, Seau had struggled with sleeplessness for years. At least four of Seau's friends said that Seau often took Ambien to help him sleep. 

Another friend, former Chargers teammate Mark Walczak, said that "I know he's had a very difficult time sleeping over the years … I think it's gotten worse and worse. Lack of sleep creates huge anxiety."

More details via the USA Today story:
The FDA-approved prescribing information for Ambien warns that suicidal thoughts or actions have been reported by depressed patients using this class of drugs. The information also instructs users not to take it if they drink, which friends say Seau did, and also if they cannot get a full night's sleep while taking it.
Nancy Emsley, Seau's workout partner at his local gym, said "He told me he usually woke up around 1 or 2 and couldn't go back to sleep." She said she lectured Seau about the importance of geting at least eight hours of sleep after taking the medication. "He just rolled his eyes," Emsley said.

This latest revelation into Seau's life brings us back to the words spoken by Dan Fouts at the Celebration of Life ceremony in Seau's honor earlier this month:

"And with all tragedies, there are lessons to be learned," he said. "Lessons that must be learned by all of us. The lesson here is: if you need help, get help. It's out there. All you have to do is swallow your pride and ask for it. We all need help at times. We can all do a better job of helping each other." 

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CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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