Want some expert advice to improve your sleep? Get the free insomnia sleep training course!
- March 23, 2020 at 8:57 am #36045
sleepykieran✘ Not a client
After 3 years of struggle with insomnia I’ve finally found a path back to normal sleep. I want to share it with you as I believe healing is possible for any of us.
My journey started 3 years ago with a big work promotion. I woke early a couple of mornings, got worried about not being able to cope, and you all know how it goes, the cycle had started and I lost my sleep confidence. The next 3 years were up and down, and culminated when I decided to give sleep restriction therapy a proper go. It didn’t work for me – rather than fix my sleep maintenance insomnia it gave me sleep onset insomnia too, which was petrifying. I was in a right mess. I was prescribed anti-depressants, which I took one of and decided they weren’t for me after feeling like a zombie for 48 hours.
I got some useful help from family, and was lucky enough to find an excellent book called ‘the effortless sleep method’. I didn’t fully follow this method to recover, but it lead me to the realisation of how I could return to normal sleep.
Any insomniac will return to being a normal sleeper when they think (beliefs), act (behaviours) and feel (emotions) like a normal sleeper. Easy to say right? But how can we get there? These three things feed into each other, and the lack of sleep makes negative emotions more common, which is why insomnia so often comes in ‘bouts’. We can’t easily control our feelings, but we can control our thoughts and behaviours. When you start thinking and acting like a normal sleeper you will start to feel like one too – and then you’ll regain your sleep confidence. Examples of insomniac thinking is anything from ‘OMG what if I have a terrible night’s sleep tonight’ to ‘Which of these herbal teas will most improve my sleep?’. Replace these with anything positive (and it doesn’t even have to be true – the fear comes from the subconscious which will respond to the repetition – it won’t respond to logic, as you’ve probably already realised!), such as ‘I’m a really good sleeper’, ‘I love my sleep’.
So for example, if you have a plan to replace as many of your insomnia thoughts with normal sleeper thoughts, or thoughts about positive thinking, you’ll be on the road to recovery. Consider meditation with affirmations, writing down positive statements in a nice notebook, long walks focusing on positive statements etc etc.
And a quick note on behaviours. I’m sure you all know about sleep hygiene, but don’t over stress it – any action you take that increases sleep-tension will probably not help. There’s a balance to be had because acting like a normal sleeper means not overplaying your bed routines, although having a consistent bed and wake time is probably going to help. And finally, live your life like a normal sleeper – never change plans because you’re tired. This is important to feeling like a normal sleeper again.
Good luck and stay safe 🙂
P.s. if you’re not currently exercising, consider 30 mins of cardio a day. It will help your body feel tired. If you are exercising, considering upping it, just don’t think ‘I have to exercise extra in order to sleep’ – these are not the thoughts of a normal sleeper.March 23, 2020 at 10:05 am #36046
Thanks for sharing. I found The Sleep Book, which uses similar ideas. It gave me tools to let go of anxious thoughts and “trying to fall asleep” by using different methods like pills. Then I started sleeping normally.March 24, 2020 at 8:32 am #36083
LCF✘ Not a client
Your experience with CBT was exactly the same as mine. At the outset, I would fall asleep fairly easily but wake up after only a few hours. By the end, after five weeks of having to get up after 20 minutes of being awake, I also had sleep onset insomnia. I got so anxious about having to get up I couldn’t fall asleep at all.
I think there is a small percentage of us who need something a little less stimulating. Even our local sleep clinic claims only an 80% success rate.March 26, 2020 at 6:50 am #36104
Mac0908✘ Not a client
Great post. Much props to you for coming on here to share. I too have realized it’s usually not one single thing that gets us back on track within a few weeks/months but rather a combination of things that ultimately slowly but surely allows us to believe we can be normal sleepers again without fear. Once those thoughts finally click in our head, we let go more and more and ultimately become more positive which leads to an eventual recovery.