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- December 3, 2019 at 1:51 pm #34258
Thanks for the reply Mac. My insomnia started in October of 2015 when I was only 19. My Mom who is the only family or person of safety I had ever known told me she was moving away to live with a friend. Renting a house with her I guess because we we’re living in a shitty 2 bedroom apt. At the time. I guess her friend had told her I was 19 now and it was time for me to be by myself. I freaked out. I was working a fast food job and I was terrified of not having my mother there for support for the first time in my life and it started then. I would lie awake all night. I went through phases of trying a bunch of sleep aids from stores, trying to buy a memory foam topper thinking that would help. Try calming music every night. Tried drinking every night so I’d knock out. Obviously none of it worked. About 2 years in I started to do heavy research on what I could do. Never had a time where my insomnia ever let up. Although for a minute I was taking magnesium tablets and going to sleep around midnight every night which is probably the best I’ve slept during the insomnia. Even then though it was only like 4-5 hours and I also ate healthy a lot never ate any sugar or saturated fats.December 3, 2019 at 3:53 pm #34259
Hi Da – that’s too bad that you had such a traumatic separation from your mom. I remember having some of those feelings when I was that age. All of a sudden I was supposed to be a “grown up” and independent, but I really wasn’t ready for it. But I had no choice because my mother had moved to another state with her new husband.
In your research, did you read about CBT-I and ACT? Martin Reed, the founder of this website, has a good explanation of CBT-I here. To get the best explanation of ACT, read Dr. Guy Meadows book, The Sleep Book. All of us practicing ACT here have read it because it’s the best resource for it. It’s easy to read and explains things very well. I contrast the two methods in this way – CBT-I works from the outside in and ACT, from the inside out. With CBT the focus on doing things like sleep restriction (SR) and getting up every half hour when you can’t sleep (SC). Through this method a lot of people start sleeping better, like Jamie has been. It also worked well for me. Within the first week I was sleeping 5-6 hours, 5 days a week. Because you’re sleeping better, your anxiety about sleep starts to go down and over time your sleep gradually improves. ACT works in the opposite way. The focus is on your thinking. You learn to start thinking differently about insomnia as well as techniques that help calm the anxiety. As your anxiety is reduced, then your sleep improves.
I did CBT-I first with Martin. I averaged 5 good nights a week and it greatly increased my confidence to sleep and reduced my anxiety. But when I heard about ACT I decided to switch to it because I knew I still had the anxiety the other 2 nights and I wanted to deal with it directly. It worked great for me. Now I’m very relaxed about sleep, taking naps if needed and not worrying if now and then I stay up late or sleep in late. Usually I don’t nap though because I’m sleeping so well that I don’t need to nap.
Just curious – is your insomnia of the sleep inset or sleep maintenance type? Sleep onset is when you have a hard time falling asleep the beginning of the night. That’s what I had. Sleep maintenance is when you fall asleep fine but then wake up too early and can’t fall back asleep. All of us here on the forum have had one or the other type, and sometimes both.December 3, 2019 at 11:10 pm #34263
Hey Deb thank you so so much for all the information! Recently, I got into a really bad accident that left me in the hospital for 3 weeks. I’m currently in the process of trying to get assistance with a 179,000 medical bill so I don’t have much money to spend especially since I’ve been out of work recovering from my injuries. Is there any major points from Martin or The Sleep Book that you have found most helpful and can you share it with me? Once I’m fully recovered I have been very seriously considering joining the national guard. I feel it’s both a good way to move on from this accident and a way to help with medical if I wanted to seek out professional help with my sleep which I would definitely like to do. Why was CBT only helping with 5 nights and not getting rid of your anxiety for the whole week if you don’t mind me asking? I feel I have definitely had a combination of both. In the beginning my mind would race a million thoughts a minute and I couldn’t get any relief. And if I did sleep it would be very light and not satisfying at all I would wake up still exhausted. After I started doing research I was able to start doing bed/waking up roughly same time every night (even though I’ve struggled with this) and started eating a lot healthier and avoiding blue-light. But now even if I can fall asleep fine I’ll only get 3-4 hours every night and it’s very discouraging I go through all this trouble just to be able to sleep for a half or a third of the time I used to be able to sleep with no trouble at all. Your point of view would be appreciated thank you again Deb.December 4, 2019 at 1:04 pm #34306
Well after my first ACT relapse last week I’m continuing to push through little by little. Trying to do more mindfulness before bed while practicing the few remaining sleep “hygiene” rules that I know are ok to stick with (i.e. No sugary foods before bed, no looking at the clock if I wake early). I haven’t had perfect nights this week, but I also haven’t had any downright bad nights like I did last week. I understand it can take months before serious healing can happen as was the case for people like Deb and Steve and I am prepared to go the distance. I know I will have drawbacks and bad nights and like last week even relapses/bad phases. It’s all about remaining calm and accepting what happens in a way that is different than anything I’ve done before. As I’ve said many times before, the reality is I still have a long way to go, and bad nights are still absolutely going to happen. I go to bed now with that mindset every night.December 4, 2019 at 4:43 pm #34309
I hear all that Mac! I’d literally give everything I own (i dont have much) just to go back to when I was young and could sleep anytime anywhere and it was refreshing God I miss it so much. It’s been so hard with everything going on in my life to keep a level head. I have one more question if you or Deb or anyone has insight. I’m 23 trying to put myself through school and right now I work at a restaurant. I can get out of the restaurant anytime from 10pm to midnightish. Should I just make my bedtime 12:30 every night? And make 7 my wake up time? Is that too late or should I just get used to that? I know a part of CBT is train your brain to sleep at the same time and only associate the bed with sleep. I just don’t wanna set me sleep time too early in the night and then miss it because of work and have to restart my progress all over again. If it take 6 months to a year to fully cure and be back to normal that’s what I’m willing to do.December 4, 2019 at 4:49 pm #34310
That sounds like a fair sleep window to me, Da. But of course the key is sticking with it and making sure you can in fact stick with it. SRT is designed to make you build confidence and understand that you CAN sleep again, but in order for it to work you cannot really have any late lie in’s. You can go to sleep past your normal start time if you’re not that tired but you still have to wake at 7am. Your attitude is really unique and positive and I must say and I’m sure you will have a good outcome to all this when all is set and done, however long that will take. Yes it’s an unfortunate thing what happened to us having this chronic issue ingrained into our heads forever but with practice and discipline we absolutely can get it under control. Just look at me. I’ve been suffering for just over 3 years now and only in the beginning of this year did I finally start to cave and do real work to try and help myself. I can honestly say I am night and day mentally with regards to where I was at in January. I kind of hope that I’m finally on the home stretch now with regards to truly turning a corner, but time will tell. Good luck.
December 4, 2019 at 4:54 pm #34312
- This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by Mac0908.
Glad you’re doing better this week, Mac. Yes, it’s going to take time. Just continue doing what you’re doing, remaining calm and accepting instead of panicking when you have a bad night. Then over time your brain will believe that the bed is a safe place and will relax. Of course it helps a lot when you actually do have good nights!
Da – I don’t know why I only slept good 5 nights using SRT. That’s just the nature of this beast. Every night I never knew whether or not I was going to be able to sleep. So the anxiety was always there. I felt like I was barely escaping my anxiety every night when I fell asleep. If I feel asleep within a few minutes then I was good to go all night, but if not, then the anxiety took over and I was up until 3 or 4. That’s why I finally decided to try ACT – to address the anxiety directly.
The Sleep Book is only $12 at Amazon (plus shipping) and I really think it’s worth every penny you have to buy it if it will help you get over this monster of insomnia and get your life back. I have read some sections 2 or 3 times to help me get the hang of it. I can’t really explain it here in just a couple paragraphs. What will help you the most is to get the book and really delve deeply into it to understand it, and then start practicing it. You said earlier that you did heavy research. Then you must have heard about CBT-I at least, if not ACT. These are the only therapies I’ve heard of that actually work, and they have research to back it up. So if you want to get better, commitment is needed – either to CBT-I or ACT. You can do it now with the help of Martin’s CBT-I resources here and the forum, or you can wait until you join the reserves and can afford professional help. If I were you I wouldn’t want to wait. I would want to get my life back NOW.December 4, 2019 at 5:01 pm #34314
Thanks Deb. Tomorrow night will be a real test for me imo. I have a special event Friday night and want to be fresh for it. Regardless of if nights have been poor lately I’ve remained calm before bed. We will see how I do tomorrow. The thing is Deb, with work I know I can always push through the days and nobody important really sees me looking tired anyway. But for Friday night I have an event where I want to look and feel my best so it’s a different scenario. It’s tough.December 4, 2019 at 5:05 pm #34315
That is tough, Mac. I hope you can still manage to accept whatever happens but I know it will be harder to do.December 5, 2019 at 7:21 am #34321
You cannot expect to sleep as you did when younger. Many people don’t. I used to get 8 hrs in my early 20s, now if I get 5 hrs average a night, I’m happy. And feel good. As long as I no longer have many nil sleep nights, life will continue to be good.
Hear my story in the Success Stories… Success with mindfulness and srt, I think its calledDecember 5, 2019 at 10:52 pm #34343
I hear that Daf. Do you feel as good now getting 5 hours as you did in your early 20s when you got 8 hours? I read your success story. My name is also David haha. Are you able to take refreshing naps now if you need one? Are you able to go out and drink with friends and stay up late if you want? I just know in this early stage in me trying to cure my insomnia I won’t sleep at all if I go out and drink or smoke or anything like that. I’ve got these heavy dark-circled bags under my eyes and they just get worse unless I go to bed roughly same time every night and wake up same time every morning and I don’t want to have that attached to me for the rest of my life you know? Lastly, can you expand on what mindfulness and srt is exactly and how would I start doing it? Please and thank you David.December 5, 2019 at 11:11 pm #34349
Yes Deb CBT did show up in my research but I could never find a lot of specifics? Maybe I just wasn’t looking correctly? I know some of the basic guidelines you know same time sleep every night same time waking up, don’t go to bed until you’re sleepy. Use bed only for sleep and sex, no caffeine or sugar but I’m sure there is more to it than that. I had never heard of ACT before though and that’s what drew me into this thread. Is that what The Sleep Book covers? I’m definitely willing to pay the 12 dollars and study it front to back if it will help me get rid of my insomnia and live a normal life again. Thanks again Deb 🙂
And thank you to Mac the vote of confidence means a lot to me. What is SRT exactly and how do I start it? Good luck to you as well!December 6, 2019 at 8:23 am #34358
Well a lot of questions.
In the podcast there’s a link to that video on 7 attitudes of mindfulness which is a good starter for understanding background of mindfulness. There are also loads of stuff on YouTube. Just look for Mindfulness Meditation. You can also attend courses on it, and get books all about it.
Yes, these days I don’t worry about going out late but drinking beer n large amounts of alcohol after 9pm are out as it messes up sleep.
If I go out late, I will always do a chill out watching something light on the TV when I get home. If that means I only have time for 2 hours or so sleep because I have to get up next day, I’m OK with that because whilst I may be a bit tired, it makes it much more likely I’ll get a long sleep next night.
But I try to keep the good sleep nights to less than 6 hours so my sleep drive is high for the next night. But im not obsessive about this. I slept for 9 hours one night 2 weeks ago on hols in Oman, but I’d had v little sleep night before on plane.
And yes I feel fine and fully alert on 5 hours, I think my average is about 5.5hrs. My theory is most people my age get about that much NET sleep, once they strip out time in bed not actually sleeping.December 6, 2019 at 8:32 am #34359
I also have big bags under my eyes, think once you have them, they don’t go. If I was an American actor or broadcaster I’d have them removed!!! But I think plastic surgery looks daft.
Oh I never napped, even when I suffered those nights of nil sleep. I figured best to keep the sleep drive high by not napping. But I guess 15 mins shut eye wouldn’t harm people if done before 2pm.
Luckily I never had 2 nil sleep nights together, like some poor souls on here claim.
You’re probably realising if you’ve read a iot of posts here that some folks think 5 hours a night would be the end of their world whilst others would praise the Lord for 3 hours each night. It’s all relative, I guess.December 6, 2019 at 3:29 pm #34365
Daf – I was wondering how long you slept before the insomnia. Were you sleeping 5 to 6 hours then? I slept an average of 8 or more hours before the insomnia and now am sleeping the same amount. I’m a grandma, so I’m not a youngster and yet still need plenty of sleep.
As far as Da (David) needing less sleep since he is getting older, according to my calculations, he’s only 23! So he probably needs more than 5 or 6 hours to feel good and sleep well like he did before the insomnia.
David – The Sleep Book is all about ACT and is written by Dr. Guy Meadows who developed the ACT insomnia therapy. The book is the best resource on this. He also has a class on his website but it costs a lot more than the book. Martin explains CBT-I very well on this website. He’s got a bunch of free resources here including a free course, videos, and podcasts. Maybe the best place for you start if you want try CBT-I is with Martin’s free course.
Unfortunately like you said, on the internet there aren’t much specifics about insomnia therapies. So you really have to turn to books and it’s hard to know which books to read. The Sleep Book is the best and probably the only book on ACT and there are some out there on CBT-I. But I think Martin’s explanation is good enough here. If you want any suggestions of books on CBT-I I can give you a couple names.