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- November 4, 2019 at 1:58 pm #33605
Not to sound offensive at all Daf but to me when I hear about someone who literally gets NO sleep nights it’s just surreal to me. To think that a person is that anxious to where they can’t nod off at all, wow. Is “Nil” sleep to you meaning you actually did not sleep ONE minute that night? When was your last night like this?
Anyway last night I already messed up. I had my plan as you guys may know to begin SRT again with the 1130p-6a window and I just had a bit of a breakdown around 10:30 where I felt tired but not exhausted, and just couldn’t bring myself to stay up for a whole other hour watching tv/laying on my couch. I just couldn’t. I went in my bed and just lied there for a bit, using some ACT techniques as I had throughout the day. Of course I had a bad night and I kinda deserved it.
But this is the new problem I’m facing as I got into yesterday. Being absolutely sick of this endless cycle and having to revert back to SRT and all these “games” of forcing myself to stay up until complete exhaustion around 11:30p. Just wish I could do like I used to. Walk into my bedroom when kinda tired and sleep alright. Harsh reality is those days are not here anymore and I still have to focus and work to get them back. It’s just so bad, Daf. I feel as if I’ve reached a point now where I’m just finally mentally drained from all of this. I’ve seen success this year in my efforts. No doubt I have. Had some short phases where I felt like this was actually behind me. I know a lot of people can’t say that on here. But to be continuing to struggle with this to this degree, having it affect my life like it did this past weekend (put off gym plans, plans with a friend), it’s just too much sometimes.
Will SRT work for me after even just a few days IMO? Absolutely. I know this. It’s nice to know. But what would be nicer to know is if I can just get past this once and for all finally. Here’s to a more serious attempt #2 tonight of resetting myself with another round of SRT. ((sighs))November 4, 2019 at 2:14 pm #33606
Daf✘ Not a client
There are many people who post on here who have reported nil sleep nights. I experienced around 100 in the 2 and a half years I was suffering for. Luckily never on consecutive nights unlike some others I’ve read about on here.
A bad night for some is 5 hours, whilst others would sell their granny to get that much.November 4, 2019 at 2:48 pm #33607
When I first started practicing ACT back in March the first couple weeks I don’t remember having any sleepless nights except possibly the first night. Mostly I had nights of light sleep or in and out of sleep. The same when I started again in mid July until I recovered the beginning of August. Most of my nil nights were in between practicing ACT or CBT after I had slipped back into my old ways of having a white russian or sleeping pill for a few nights. When I stopped using those crutches and got back into ACT I might have a sleepless night or just an hour or two of sleep the first night. So overall, my experience with ACT was mostly light sleep or in and out of sleep all night.
Now that I’ve had a relapse and recovered easily, I feel even more relaxed about sleep and confident about ACT. It’s reminded me that normal sleep is all about letting go, and it gives you a method to re-learn how to do this.November 4, 2019 at 3:16 pm #33608
Well said, Deb. If nothing else, I felt the same good relaxed feeling you talk about with regards to recovering after relapses. Only with me I’m more into SRT as you know. It’s an interesting feeling, as if more confidence builds after each time you quickly recover as opposed to when we all started this and were kind of lost. While I’m a bit of a mess right now, I can tell you that I’m better than I was in January, and even May. Didn’t seem like you explained many details of your ACT techniques though. Only that you would tell yourself that your nights weren’t that bad, etc etc. Below I’m going to list some ACT exercises I’ve done and you tell me what you think, please:
-Constantly reminding myself that I’ve recovered before. Thinking about the good feelings I had during those good phases
-knowing that no matter how rough it will be, I’ve gotten through a million sleepy days at work and I’ll do it again
-focusing on my breath and/or the touch of my pillow when having an early awakening
-going to sleep and almost expecting that I may have an awakening instead of trying to “hope” in my head that I don’t
-naming any bad thoughts that come into my head at night funny names. Laughing in my head at how ridiculous this problem is and how I’ll be fine, etc.November 4, 2019 at 3:40 pm #33609
The main ACT technique that I used was acceptance of a sleepless night and giving up the struggle to try to sleep. And when I caught myself struggling or getting anxious at night I would always go back to acceptance. Sometimes the anxiety was too much and I would have to get up and write for awhile before my mind would clear and I could finally realize that I was struggling again. Then I could relax, go back to acceptance and go back to bed.
I wouldn’t exactly call this a technique and it wasn’t mentioned as one in Guy’s book, but when I was in the state of acceptance my mind would relax and start wandering. I wasn’t thinking about anything particular, just like the old days before insomnia.
All those things you listed are good, but then always go back to acceptance of whatever happens that particular night after you wake up, and just “rest” in bed without thinking about anything particular. You want bed to be associated with peacefulness and not thinking much about anything.November 4, 2019 at 3:42 pm #33610
Remember Carlos in the book, who took awhile to learn how to completely relax in bed. His sleep didn’t improve the first two weeks but he was finally peaceful at night. Then his sleep started improving after that.November 4, 2019 at 3:45 pm #33611
Basically if you have an early awakening, instead of panicking, just accept that it’s part of your sleep in a way, and relax there in bed. Kind of a hard thing to do but that’s what you’re trying to imply right ?November 4, 2019 at 3:49 pm #33612
Pretty sure that a huge reason a couple of my relapses began after ‘special event’ nights was because on those nights in particular it’s VERY hard to accept the fact that “ok tomorrow is going to be a bad day, its ok”. It’s one thing if it’s an ordinary day, but if you have an interview or a hot date or a big event, going into it exhausted and awful looking (bags under eyes) is kind of a problem. It just is, at least in my opinion. Not to mention you won’t really be able to enjoy it to the fullest. Can you get through it? Sure. But it won’t be nearly as good as if you were well rested. Sasha Stephens said herself in her book that special event insomnia was the last thing that stuck around for her that she had to conquer.November 4, 2019 at 3:55 pm #33613
You got it, Mac! It’s interesting because others here including myself (Gdsmom in particular) said that once she started practicing ACT, she might still not be getting enough sleep but she functioned better during the day. Guy says this too. It takes a lot of energy to struggle with insomnia at night. So give up the struggle.November 4, 2019 at 4:00 pm #33614
I’ve been trying deb, I’ve been trying. Little by little I’ve implemented more ACT. But since SRT was always very helpful to me I will be going that route again now too. Hopefully this is the last major relapse you ever hear from meNovember 4, 2019 at 4:49 pm #33615
Mac – my only concern about you combining the two is that with SRT, worries always come up. For instance, if you didn’t go to sleep as late as you should have, or got up later than you should have then you worry that your bad sleep that night was due to not doing SRT correctly. So when you’re always concerned about “following the schedule exactly” because if you don’t you’ll mess up your sleep, then you can’t completely relax about sleeping, which is what ACT is all about.
Whereas if you relaxed about your sleep window as well, say making it from 10:30 to 6:30, then you would learn to relax overall about your sleeping. When I started practicing ACT I went to bed between 10:30 and 11:00 and woke up anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30, depending on the quality of my sleep during that time. I didn’t an use an alarm clock because I don’t need to. Now I’m starting to wake up closer to 6:30 since my sleep is consolidating and good.November 4, 2019 at 5:33 pm #33616
gsdmom✘ Not a client
Mac – you asked about my insomnia experience. I had it since I was a child. I often could not fall asleep and would open my blinds and read books with the light of the streetlights shining in. Sometimes I would be up until 2am and if I went to sleep I’d have this same confused, repetitive dream. I was very neglected as a child and therefore I think there is this continued underlying anxiety with me. To get over anxiety I have to really dig deep to find the core origin of it, and the same with insomnia, had to really dig deep to find out what is preventing sleep on various nights. I studied to be in the healthcare profession and enjoy reading about physiology and stuff. When Deb mentioned the amygdala and ACT I searched them both and found articles about mindfulness meditation being able to heal the amygdala after about 8 weeks of practice. I also read people’s recovery stories and realized recovery could take several months if almost a year, and then thought about my progress and realized that once I started to recover, it would be most likely a minimum of 4 months. With all that, I felt I had realistic goals and so I could accept a slow process, learned to have patience and just accept that I had insomnia, talk about it more openly to get it off my mind, and when I did that, others would open up to me about their experiences and usually they did more of the talking and it seemed to be therapuetic to both of us. The reason I brought up my childhood is that my brain has probably learned these insomnia pathways and likes them and often would revert back to them. That is were the mindfulness can help override these pathways, but I read they never go away. Prior to ACT I was listening to guided YouTube videos for about 20 minutes almost daily. My adult daughter recently began to have epilepsy again after several years of remission. Her neurologist talked about the brain just liking certain pathways, he could not explain why the brain chooses or likes certain pathways, but recommended she start taking medication now to disrupt the brain pathways that are causing the seizures before they become too comfortable.
This year my insomnia developed from taking a medication, terbinafine for toe nail fungus. I was probably the 1-2% of the population who had insomnia as a side affect. I didn’t understand what was happening at first and took the medication for almost 3 weeks. The medication is designed to stay in your system for about 12 weeks. So I was destined to have chronic insomnia for 3 months, terfinafine seemed so powerful that even Ambien was only about 50% effective, plus I had other awful side effects. I feel I could have recovereda bit sooner but developed anxiety towards sleep. The situation was that at the start of my insomnia, my spouse was dating another woman. He came home about the time I was almost falling asleep, so then the dog would bark and startle me, then he would often make some food, banging dishes around in the kitchen anywhere between 10pm-1am. I didn’t care about the dating, but the late-night noise caused me to have anticipatory anxiety, and then I never could relax at night. I went to a sleep doctor and had a sleep study. The doctor also treats my husband. I told him what I just wrote and the doc advised to sleep in a separate room and suggested SC. I did this for about 3-4 weeks. We have a small place, and so I ended up sleeping on the floor in my daughter’s art studio, very uncomfortable. The SC helped for about 2-3 weeks, then the routine of it started to give me anxiety. Just prior to insomnia I had painted and redecorated my bedroom. I really liked it and wanted to get back into my comfortable place. And set my mind to take back my bedroom. Then about 3 weeks later I read about ACT from this forum and tried it. During the process of acceptance, something might trigger a negative event from the past, I would welcome it at night and if it persisted I would search online for strategies to cope with it and have compassion for myself. Often during the day I would lean into the uncomfortable thought or feeling and name it. And then say, sleep anxiety, career regrets, or resentment is taking a hike with me today. Then when I was done with my hike I’d recheck to see what was still with me. Often something dropped out, and if a happy emotion came along like Joy I’d welcome Joy with me in the car ride home. I feel like ACT helped me psychologically deal with negative emotions and events by really feeling them and learning to accept them and that made them easier to let go, not obsessing over them which can be terrible when you have sleep-onset insomnia. Plus lying and just relaxing in bed gives me more energy to get through the day, and the busier I am the less I think about insomnia. I do struggle sometimes, if the lite sleep is bothering me or if I’m struggling I often get up, go downstairs, get some water, give my body a little massage, go back upstairs and often I can get back to sleep. Its like a reset. My sleep doc also told me I am in lite sleep for too long and just remind myself I am in lite sleep, I am sleeping, and this message is sometimes just enough to put me back to sleep. FYI, I did take a lot of Ambien between March and July. Started ACT in August, took Ambien about 1x week in August and now 2 months since my last Ambien. Sorry this is so lengthy, but its a complicated story.November 4, 2019 at 9:50 pm #33623
gsdmom, this is incredibly helpful. I love the idea of emotions and past experiences taking a hike with you—and then dropping out and possibly being replaced with a positive emotion or thought. A mindfulness practice does help (I completed a free online Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course over 8 weeks—not specifically for sleep issues, but it helped) but sometimes I have difficulty in accepting challenging thoughts and emotions. Your strategy is great. For those interested, this is the course—you can complete it at your own pace, but ideally it is done over 8 weeks—lots of meditations., readings, videos, even a yoga practice as based on Jon Kabat Zinn’s work on pain patients:
Nick Wignall, a sleep psychologist featured on Martin’s and Daniel’s YouTube channel, had a terrific article about anxiety. His approach is quite similar to ACT—approaching the anxiety with compassion, being willing to live with it instead of pushing it away, and tasking responsibility for your worry habit (worry may seem like problem-solving, but as it is focused on something you can’t do anything about it right then or even something that’s not really a problem) and refocusing attention on something else:November 4, 2019 at 11:16 pm #33629
Gdsmom – you’ve been through a lot. No wonder it’s taking longer for your insomnia to heal. My life is so much easier – I’ve got a supportive husband and am doing work that I love (I’m a very late bloomer – better late than never.) I also was neglected as a child but I’ve been through therapy and have healed a lot of things. My younger life was much more difficult but now I’m finally seeing the fruits of all my efforts and things are getting easier and I’m a lot happier.
Besides letting go of anxiety, maybe it’s time to let go of that husband of yours! Ha ha! (Sorry – I’m a marriage coach and prejudiced. I believe that people shouldn’t have to suffer in their marriages and that everyone deserves to be loved by their spouse.)November 5, 2019 at 12:57 am #33635
Daf, I have a similar issue to you in that if I sleep for 7+ hours I have extreme difficulty sleeping the next night. I also feel more groggy and less energetic, like I’ve OD’d on sleep!
I have a natural wake-up time of 6 am most mornings. I’d be happy going to bed at midnight, even though I have been going to bed earlier, 10:30 to 11 all my life. But hey, what’s an hour? The difficulty is that now the midnight bedtime seems to be moving towards 1 am—and there isn’t even many signs of sleepiness then.
I honestly feel that I don’t have a strong sleep drive. I’m not saying my “sleep mechanism” is broken, as I used to think. But I definitely don’t experience sleepiness every 16 hours. My circadian rhythms seem sluggish and I seem to be much more on a 18 to 19 hour schedule. I’m 100% sure it is no longer hyperarousal. I’m not saying I have no melatonin or adenosine in me, but at 65 I may be producing less or am just an outlier who demonstrates that there is some human variability in bodily functions. Fifty years from now there may be tests and treatment for low levels of adenosine (although I will admit that exogenuous melatonin doesn’ts eem to correct the situation/problem. What do you think?