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- November 10, 2019 at 11:20 pm #33796
Also I’m still doing pretty well at falling asleep rather quickly , which is awesome BUT I still am waking so many times! So the last few nights, I’ve been getting up and reading out on the couch, and sometimes falling asleep there, not in my bed… I had been staying in my bed , but I think I’d just gotten bored , and ya, maybe even a bit too irritated at times to ‘accept or welcome ‘
I need to practice this whole ACT. haha!November 10, 2019 at 11:48 pm #33797
It’s been a little while – thank you for checking in, Deb 🙂
I think this will be my farewell post in the forum since I no longer feel like insomnia is a problem in my life but if anyone ever want to be in touch to talk about recovery please do feel free to email me: borgesbi at hotmail (Bianca Borges). I’m no expert and don’t have perfect sleep but I’m more than happy to talk about it and help with anything I can!
Although my sleep continues to be far from perfect it is also very far from how bad it used to be and that’s good enough for me. I think my horrible struggle with insomnia during CBT-I was a desperate wish, hope, and expectation that my sleep would/should go back to”normal”, to how it was, and for that I blame my former sleep therapist (before working with Martin) who told me with certainty that my sleep would be completely recovered in just 4 weeks. I can’t put into words just how harmful this statement was to me in so many levels. In fact, if you are in Boulder (CO) I do not recommend working with Summit Behavioral Sleep Medicine, especially Vyga Kauffman (who did a TEDx talk on insomnia and surprisingly and ironically was trained by Donn Posner). I’m sorry if I sound resentful and negative – it was an absurd amount of time, money, and needless suffering because of bad implementation of CBT-I techniques. With Martin it was a whole new world: he was compassionate, thorough, and did a great job implementing the techniques but I think my mindset with CBT-I was already ruined from the previous treatment and I just couldn’t move forward with it. ACT is what really worked for me and I’m a big advocate for it (thanks always, Deb!)
Sleep has never returned to how it used to be but my life and my well being have. Life is normal again – I am back to being very active with social life, going out at night, exercising, going on hikes, dancing, taking classes. I think I understand now that my brain simply learned insomnia and it will never un-learn it so I decided to surrender to it once and for all. I was a complete normal sleeper for 32 years of my life and I must say acceptance of this loss hasn’t come easily, it’s been a process and ACT has helped me immensely with it. I don’t know that my sleep will ever be as awesome as it used to be but now I see my insomnia a little bit like a chronic illness – I have it for life, I can go into remission and I can have flare ups here and there, and that’s that. Fighting and feeling frustrated is not going to help any chronic illness, it will only make it worse. Reactivity, frustration, resistance is just a load of negativity on top of an already difficult situation so I’ve been learning more and more to just let it be. I won’t deny it feels abnormal and it’s beyond uncomfortable and unpleasant to be awake for several hours in the middle of the night but so are symptoms of an auto-immune condition (which I also have) and I know that fighting none of these is ever helpful.
Although it doesn’t happen often, these days I can easily detect what’s keeping me awake, and being able to do so not only takes away any fear or confusion but it also helps me relax into wakefulness, which subsequently brings sleep sooner or later. For me I’ve noticed wakefulness happens because of either one or a combination of these:
– sleep drive (varies from day to day without much explanation and I just ride with it. Earliest I go to bed is 10pm and latest is 12am, similar to how it used to be before insomnia actually. Earliest wake-up time is 6 am and latest is 8 am – a little different than before insomnia since the latest was 9 am or 10 am on weekends. I no longer keep track of times as strictly as I did before, sometimes I go to bed without remembering to look at the clock)
– arousal system ON for following reasons: too active or excited before bed time, situational anxiety, conscious/unconscious sleep anxiety, conscious/unconscious self-monitoring for sleep (toughest one to catch as it brings a high degree of alertness with no anxiety accompanying it)
– the plain old my-brain-just-KNOWS-wakefulness-in-the-middle-of-the-night and it is playing it out right now. This is the same thing gdsmom talked about: neural pathways in the brain.
These days when I detect the reason for wakefulness I don’t freak out like I used to with CBT-I, I don’t beat myself up for doing anything wrong. I just detect it and then relax and let it be.
Since starting ACT my sleep has improved immensely but I also know that relapses happen and should be expected. I know that my brain will never really forget insomnia so I’m always kind of ready or accepting of a difficult night. I don’t dwell over a bad night and also don’t jump in excitement over a good night’s sleep. I just let sleep be!
I hope this post is helpful to all of you, and again, if anyone ever wishes to be in touch, feel free to do so! As always, wishing everyone a restful evening 🙂November 11, 2019 at 12:00 am #33798
Mac0908✘ Not a client
Amazing post, Borg. One of the bests I’ve ever read. God bless and enjoy your recovery and hopefully continuing to get even better.November 11, 2019 at 3:26 am #33800
Thank you, Mac! Wishing you all of the same – and be patient with the journey 😉
Also, if my sleep ever goes back to being how it was originally I’ll definitely come back to report it!November 11, 2019 at 3:46 pm #33806
It’s great to hear from all of you! I wish for all that you could be experiencing what I am, which is sleeping well like I did before the insomnia. But everyone has their own journey.
Borgesbi – glad to hear that you’re doing well, but still having some challenges.
Jazzcat & Pam – when I would have long nights I would not be “thinking” about anything – no thoughts of observing or accepting or doing mindfulness. I would get to the place of acceptance of whatever happens, which is an “attitude” shift. Then I would let go of any thinking and just let my mind wander like it did before the insomnia. Yes, it might be a long night but probably there was some light sleep mixed with periods of being in and out of sleep and that’s why I was “decent” the next day. Over time, my sleep consolidated and deepened. So if you’re willing to hang in there and just let go of any thinking at all, you’ll eventually start to sleep better.
This is why I went on in my earlier rant about the difference between the little “a” and the big “A.” You use the little “a” (acceptance of negative thoughts & feelings) to calm yourself down if needed. But when you’re finally able to make the big mental shift to the big “A” (acceptance of whatever happens – whether you sleep or not) you then let go of any thinking.
It’s the willingness to “do nothing” and “think nothing” and just be with it even if it’s all night long which helped me re-learn (and remember) how to “let go,” which is what normal sleepers do all the time. Pam – you may want to re-read the section on Carlos’s case study because he learned how to let go and lie peacefully in bed without any expectations. It says his sleep did not improve for two weeks so he probably had a lot of long nights. But because he let go, then eventually his sleep improved. All of us need to learn how to “let go.” This is the key. But I know this isn’t so easy for us controlling types. But if want to sleep well again like we did before the insomnia, then we need to re-learn this skill.November 11, 2019 at 9:46 pm #33802
Daf✘ Not a client
I’m still doing well. Sleeping average 5.5 hours, slowly going up to 6 hours each night.
Slight relapse three weeks ago with two nil sleep nights in a week, but soon got back fine again.
So, now it has been over 5 months with only those two nil sleep nights.
How I did it is on this podcast that Martin did with me, If you’ve not heard it already. Listen to the whole thing! Enjoy.
Keep well, sleep well, be well!
DafNovember 12, 2019 at 12:39 am #33812
Thanks Deb! I will def re read about Carlos,
One thing that’s been very difficult,and prob a big reason I’m waking so early on in the evening …?! I can’t stay awake if I’m reading or watching tv😭from
6-8! It’s a constant battle of ‘head nodding’ then I try and force myself to stay up until 10 ,will fall asleep quickly,but I’m awake BY12:00,and very little bits of light sleep till I get up @ 5
And that’s been my nights of late
So Is that what’s messing me up so bad ?! We spent two weeks in israel and we are a bit out of sorts on our night and days, however with insomnia it hasn’t been as difficult for me as it has been for my poor hubby!November 12, 2019 at 1:28 am #33811
I just finished listening to your podcast with Martin…it was great!
Thanks for your honesty,it’s great to hear how well you seem to be getting along! It seems quite a few folks have been doing much better!
Thanks again to Martin, for this site,I have been helped immensely by all of you!
PamNovember 12, 2019 at 11:10 am #33815
Daf✘ Not a client
Re your “light sleep” it is probably deeper than you realise.
When you wake from a sleep phase, let your mind be “soft and enquiring” for say a minute or so and your mind will probably recall a dream you were just having, showing that you were in fact in quote deep sleep.
To aid this process, I often have some cheese or milk before bed – as I’m convinced it increases dreams and dream awareness. Just an idea to try.November 12, 2019 at 4:11 pm #33817
gsdmom✘ Not a client
After reading Borgesbi’s post, I just had to write that I too think it is amazing – all your insights are so helpful!
My update and quick summary. Started ACT Aug 1st, had slow and erratic improvement through August and Sept. About Oct 1st I had one week of normal sleep then for the next 3 weeks I’d range from zero to 8 hours of sleep per night, probably averaging 4.5 = 5 hours per night. Because I was resting in bed at night, my energy during the day improved and I felt better. Since Nov 1st, I’ve had mostly normal nights sleep again, about 8 hours if my cat does not wake me up too early. Three nights ago I had what felt like a no-sleep night, in Deb’s post above mine, she describes well what I was going through. I feel like I was in light sleep for 45 min, then was awake for about 5 hours, sometimes feeling like I would drift off, only to get alert a few moments after drifting and then in light sleep for the last hour. I had to work a short 4-hour shift the next day and didn’t feel bad at all!
From Borgesbi’s post, I’d have to agree with the comments about the arousal system being on for my nil sleep night. No anxiety, I had just slipped into a bad pattern of something from my pre-insomnia life and I believe it contributed to insomnia that night. I had an early morning class for tax preparation – I didn’t go outside for exercise, I forgot to eat, stayed after class and got obsessed with doing computer work in advance so then I also forgot to drink and hydrate, then decided I need some fresh clothes for work, I went to the mall for 2 hours which really overwhelms me. Too many choices, I generally shop online. So I basically treated myself poorly. Then before bed, my husband made a neutral comment that he noticed my sleep seemed to be improving and that might have caused me to over monitored my sleep. My sleep doctor said insomnia will be a lifelong issue for me, so thinking about it as a chronic disease is very helpful. So I just wanted to say to everyone to not be discouraged, stay patient, you will have some setbacks, and you will slowly recover and feel better.November 13, 2019 at 2:14 pm #33872
Mac0908✘ Not a client
Your sleep doctor told you insomnia will be a LIFELONG issue for you? Geez. Can’t say I agree with that from a doctor. Aren’t we supposed to be getting positive encouragement? How long have you been suffering ?November 13, 2019 at 3:17 pm #33874
I agree with Mac. I don’t think a lot of sleep doctors know much about this type of insomnia. It’s an anxiety condition and we’re not born with it like some physical condition. Therefore we can heal from it just like any other anxiety-related condition. We may be predisposed to having some relapses, but we don’t have to “struggle” with it the rest of our lives. I consider myself healed in that I am sleeping like a normal person again. I have the memory of the insomnia but now I know what to do if I start getting anxious about it so that I can continue to sleep normally.
Gdsmom – glad you’ve been getting some good sleep lately. Hope it keeps up.November 13, 2019 at 3:41 pm #33875
Pam – it sounds like you need more hours of sleep. Since you automatically wake up at 5, then how about going to bed at 9:00? Obviously you are very tired since you say you can’t stay awake reading or watching TV from 6 to 8. I’m sure this is due to the fact that your sleep is so light. You’re simply not getting enough sleep.
When I was doing ACT I was having mostly light sleep. So I was tired during the day (but not a zombie, thank goodness.) By the evening the tiredness started to hit hard. I went to bed at my regular time of 10:30-11:00, but then I let myself sleep as long as I needed, usually at least until 7:30 and sometimes sleeping until 8 or 8:30. So I was in bed anywhere from 8.5 to 10 hours. Since you know you’re going to wake up at 5 then you should go to bed earlier, at 9 or even 8. The thing about ACT is to relearn how to relax about sleep. If you think you must push yourself to stay awake until 10:00, and then know that you might wake up at 12:00, and then wake up all the way at 5:00, you probably have anxiety about not getting enough sleep. I suggest you let yourself relax more about sleep and let yourself sleep longer hours. Also, don’t disappear from the forum for 2 months. We are here to help you and you need more regular support to overcome this.November 13, 2019 at 3:43 pm #33876
JTthemillenial✘ Not a client
Well, good news from me. I crossed the 6-hour threshold last night without any help from terrible previous nights. I think my body finally decided 5-5.5 hours a night wasn’t cutting it because that’s what I’ve been sleeping consistently but yesterday I was so sleepy all day that I crashed when I went to bed. I also expanded my window to 6.5 hours last night. The ACT seems to be working too because my anxiety is finally going down, but maybe that is because I am actually sleeping nightly now. 2.5 weeks into SRT and so far it seems to be doing it’s job!
Borgesbi, I sent you an email. Not sure if you got it.
Gsd, I’d probably agree that those comments from your doctor weren’t very helpful unless they think there really is an underlying medical issue. If you’ve been improving, I’m sure that improvement will only continue.
Mac, how’s the ACT going for you?November 13, 2019 at 3:49 pm #33877
Yay, Jamie! 6 hours is good!