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- November 2, 2019 at 2:58 am #33553
Jamie – The 2 days out of 7 that I couldn’t sleep while doing SR I also experienced that the sleep drive did not override the anxiety. It was very frustrating. That’s why I decided I needed to try ACT which deals directly with the anxiety. Are you able to practice mindfulness during the day? It’s easier to learn how to do it during the day than at night when the anxiety is so high and there are no distractions. Once you get the hang of it then you can practice it at night too.November 3, 2019 at 2:11 pm #33571
Well that’s that for me.. After two bad nights on the WEEKEND I think it’s safe to say I’m back to square one and another round of SRT is officially upon me beginning tonight. Insane how this all works. Really is. You try something and it works. You feel the sleep anxiety almost vanish after just a day or two. You feel optimistic almost as if you never had a sleep problem. Then somehow it comes back and you hit absolute rockbottom. Never fails.
For those who weren’t aware recently I tried after a VERY long time, to go into my bed early again before I became sleepy. To cut out the super strict “bed is ONLY for sleep” rule that has been in place for what feels like an eternity. I thought it would somehow take the ease off of things and it did. I slept well for a good few days. But it was only a band aid. The underlying anxiety came back and my nervous system proved to still be traumatized.
The only thing I can say I’m guilty of is never sticking to SRT for longer than a month or two. After having dealt with this insomnia thing for 3 years on and off, I think it’s safe to say that short term SRT is not for me. I need to retrain my brain to a point where it means extreme measures. If that means 6 months straight of a 6.5 hour window then so be it. It’s just so hard when I’ve done several rounds of SRT already, saw improvement, and that didn’t fix things long term. Makes me sick to have to back yet AGAIN to the super late 11:30pm bedtimes and 6am MUST wakeups, even on weekends. But this is my last resort now. It really is. Going to try to do this as long as I possibly can until I feel for certain that I am healed to a degree that is more than just “ok”.November 3, 2019 at 3:00 pm #33573
Mac – I’m so sorry that you’re having such a hard time. I hope sometime you’ll give ACT a try and I don’t mean just adding some of the elements of ACT to SR, but really committing to it. It gets to the core of the anxiety. I’ve had one relapse so far and when I finally buckled down and practiced ACT again it only took me a couple nights to start sleeping normally again. It really works. It teaches you how to completely let go, which is what normal sleepers do.November 3, 2019 at 3:17 pm #33574
Well, this is my first cold I got while having insomnia and I tell you it is leaving me flat on my back. I usually stay in bed for 8 hours, plus a half hour to an hour on weekends but I have been collapsing in a chair and nodding in and out all weekend. Not sure if it’s affecting my sleep or not. It has sure given me an “I don’t care” attitude which is what I think I need to fight the anxiety.November 3, 2019 at 3:32 pm #33575
Sorry you have a cold, Steve. Take care of yourself and get well!November 3, 2019 at 3:42 pm #33576
Agreed Deb. Agreed completely. I’ve experienced the whole “let go” feeling many times throughout this and it’s a great feeling. Only thing is, it’s hard to keep it up without real practice of ACT. I feel as if I have tried all sorts of shortcuts. Short term SRT, sleeping on my couch back earlier this year, cutting out certain rules to ease anxiety, etc. Bottom line is that these have all only been temporary solutions. Band aids on the real problem of a completely traumatized nervous system after having dealt with this for so long. 3 years to be exact.
I know we may have spoken about this before but maybe not in detail so much. Since you’ve had such a significant amount of success with ACT can you please share in detail your use of it? I know you spoke of the daytime positive thoughts and the ‘Naming/playing around’ of your bad thoughts when they arrive at night, but what else do you got?
Thank you.November 3, 2019 at 3:47 pm #33577
gsdmom✘ Not a client
Hi Jamie, I read Deb’s response to you and I just wanted to say my experiences with insomnia parallel Deb’s and her advice and solutions were very helpful for me. I tried SR for a few days, and as Deb wrote, in general for me my anxiety can be so great that it overrides the sleep drive. This could be from patterns of childhood, from adverse childhood experiences. Acceptance of my insomnia, talking about it and not feeling embarrassed about it, like I was a failure or something for not sleeping was the turning point for me feeling better. Using ACT was most helpful to accomplish this. SR was extremely stressful and while SC was helpful in the beginning it didn’t address underlying anxiety. As Deb mentioned, practicing welcoming and mindfulness during the day worked out better for me. My anxiety was not really about sleep itself or the bed, but how the effects of insomnia were affecting my life. Not being able to work and therefore income and savings issues, relationship issues, and planning my activities of daily living like meals and housekeeping due to fatigue and brain fog. For me practicing ACT and learning to welcome and lean into really uncomfortable feelings of shame, anxiety, regrets, etc that came up, instead of pushing them away was kind of intense that is why it is better to deal with them during the day, and if they don’t go away, journal at night once in a while. Now that I am working again and busier, I still try to practice the breathing exercises mentioned in the Sleep Book a few minutes when I first wake up, quietly in bed and/or during a break from work sitting in my car quietly for a few moments.
It takes some time, I’ve been doing ACT for 3 months so far and still have sleep onset issues, but most nights I eventually get at least 5 hours of deep sleep and maybe an hour or two of light sleep in the beginning. After reading some of Martin’s success stories, sleeping a good six hours is an achievement and I expect it will take many more months to get back to my previous 7-8 hours of sleep. Wishing you better sleep soon and remember you’ll need a lot of patience in the healing process.November 3, 2019 at 3:51 pm #33578
That was a great post, GSD. It’s just so hard not to be p-ssed off about going through this. As Jamie put it, I too just can’t imagine a day where I wouldn’t be even just a little bit upset about sleeping like crap the night before. Complete acceptance and not caring is very difficult.
Would you mind sharing a summary of your journey/what happened and what tools from ACT you feel helped you along your way?November 3, 2019 at 4:57 pm #33581
Mac, mmm, I feel your pain!
I think that one needs to accept that folks like you and me need less sleep than other “normal people”. Nothing wrong with that – and we are actually NOT “not normal”, just a bit controlling – I’ll bet most people on here are a little bit “controlling” but also successful by what us westerners define as “success”.
I have learnt that as long as I avoid going over 6 hrs sleep, that the sleep drive next night will be strong enough to push me to sleep each and every night. However, if I go way over, like getting 7 hours, the chances of not being tired at all the next night and even getting a “nil sleep night” are then raised.
So, when my 58 year old bladder gets me up for the loo (bathroom for our American readers) and I see I’ve had 5 hours sleep, I will try my best to reset alarm on my phone for just one more hour.
So I think SRT works. But anytime I can’t sleep, I do try to practice mindful acceptance (ACT) – but mindful acceptance is fairly hard to do right and I suspect is especially hard for us controlling types to do – as it is the antithesis of control. Still, it has helped me
(See my podcast with Martin in Success stories if you’ve not already, in which I talk about CBTi , SRT and ACT and how all work for me – though I have no time for getting out of bed after 20 mins of no sleep).
Keep well and keep encouraging us all. This is a great forum.
Daf (Just about over the rugby now!!)
PS Mac – Just because you have to have some SRT in your life, does not make you not normal. No need to be like other people. We are not all the same. I’d like to have won a grand slam at tennis or played footy for England, but I was just not goof enough. Accept that you will have to control sleep amounts to keep sleeping every night – and don’t believe the hogwash about 8 hours sleep being normal. It isn’t – I’ve written another new post on why it’s not.November 3, 2019 at 5:14 pm #33584
Thanks Daf. I never mention anything about 8 hours and what not though. Realized quite a long time ago now that not only do most adults not need 8 hours, but even when i thought i used to, i rarely ever got a full 8. For me my average time was always around 7.
It sounds to me like you’re on a semi-permanent basis with SRT if you are sticking to a 6 hours per night no matter what window, is that right? I’m just assuming there is no set times for your 6 hours. I just don’t know anymore Daf. I really don’t. Part of me thinks I continue to make progress little by little and then another part of me just wants to have a nervous breakdown at this point having had a complete wash of a weekend here now some 10 months after I came to these forums and began implementing some of these techniques. Sure I haven’t done them perfectly or stuck with them a lot but I guess just by default I figured I’d at least be past the falling back to bad weekend sleep point.
SRT round 4? begins tonight.November 3, 2019 at 5:40 pm #33586
JTthemillenial✘ Not a client
Good luck, Mac. Maybe take it super slow this time. Maybe give yourself two weeks of good sleep efficiency instead of one before increasing by 15 minutes. SRT seems to work for you; you just may need to be more gradual with it.
On week two of SRT now. Hardest thing is maintaining an overall positive mindset and approaching each night with a beginner’s mind. Don’t want to get wound up overanalyzing my progress.November 3, 2019 at 5:54 pm #33587
JTthemillenial✘ Not a client
Deb and GSD, thanks. I practice mindfulness regularly during the day in the face of all this. It helps, but it doesn’t eradicate my anxiety. Just makes me respond to it differently. It’s just something I need to continue working on long term. While I’m not doing 100% ACT, it has helped me immensely in this process.November 3, 2019 at 6:36 pm #33589
Mac, My view is that if I have a night of no sleep again, I will still get through the next day and can look forward to great sleep the next night. I may feel not good, but I’ll get by.
But if I get 2 or more hours I actually feel OK next day and I’m cool with that. Again, I can look forward to a longer sleep next night.
My sleep average is about 5.5 hrs. I try to avoid going over 6.5hrs because I won’t feel sleepy the following night.
Think important to be realistic about what’s achievable as well as being accepting.November 4, 2019 at 2:45 am #33593
In some ways I’m not the best model of ACT because I really didn’t practice mindfulness or welcoming that much. I did use it a few times when I felt I really needed it though. I was lucky in that I could get to the place of acceptance of sleepless nights fairly easily and that’s what led to my quick recovery. When I first started it felt like I was leaping off a cliff into the abyss. But I’ve done this before in my life with other issues and knew I would survive even though it might be very hard. I prepared myself to willing to accept 2 weeks of sleepless nights, which I hoped and prayed I could handle. I told myself that if I didn’t see any improvement within that time I would give up and go back to CBT.
The first night was very long and I barely slept at all. Somehow though I was “ok” the next day and not a zombie. I told myself that the way I felt was “not too bad.” I knew that thinking negatively about how I was feeling during the daytime would only increase my anxiety and make my sleep the next night more difficult.
The next few nights were a combination of wakefulness and light sleep. Again, I would wake up in the morning feeling “not too bad,” so could keep up the generally upbeat attitude. Soon after my sleep began to lengthen and deepen and then I fully recovered.
I think for those of us who have been on this path for awhile, the anxiety isn’t super high like it was in the beginning. That’s why I didn’t have to practice the mindfulness and welcoming very much. But I absolutely had to practice acceptance (of a sleepless night), and that was key for me. Also, I could break out of struggling or getting anxious once I “caught myself in the act” of struggling. Then I could press the acceptance button and get back to a place of resting in bed without any expectations. And many times sleep would come then.November 4, 2019 at 7:47 am #33594
Good post Deb,
Wondering if you had many nil sleep nights?
Being “in acceptance” when one has had ten of those in a single month is very hard work indeed.
I think one aspect I always found hard was that the insomnia series of often nil sleep nights, (which could be as much as every second night for two or three months) could start from random, with no obvious cause after some very long runs of sleeping fine, night after night.
This is a particularly cruel aspect of this illness. (For this reason, I’ve often wondered if there is some chemical cause in our bodies that triggers is and which is not obvious to the patient, nor yet discovered by the medical profession).
When my insomnia raged I would either sleep fine or I would not sleep at all. There were very few occasions when I’d just get a few precious hours of sleep. It tended to be all or nothing.