Want some expert advice to improve your sleep? Get the free insomnia sleep training course!
- December 6, 2019 at 3:54 pm #34366
Daf✘ Not a client
Three and a bit years ago, age 54, before the insomnia started I think I probably got about the same amount of net sleep as I do now – about 5hrs to 6 hours on average.
When I was 20 I think I must have got 7 hours nett sleep. It gradually declined, though I never had real issues with insomnia until Sept 2016.
I’ve definitely read that the ACTUAL sleep people get in middle age is about 6 hours, once you strip out the time they are in bed but not actually sleeping. (If you ask a non-insomnia sufferer they are likely to tell you their time in bed cos they have never thought about it too hard!)
Also, I’ve read that sleep amounts declines with age as circadian rhythm weakens, until v old age (I’m guessing 75+) when it rises again, (for most people but not all).
Sleep amounts are highly varied. Some folks need no more than on 4 or 5 hrs – and can’t get more if they tried. I know you need more, so does my wife and my Mum who must average over 8 hours! It varies. I’ve learned not to be jealous. I can run faster than my wife and read faster, so what! We all differ,
I’m sure Martin can confirm what I say here about sleep amounts – as I’m sure I read it here too.
Also, read that statistically on average folks who sleep 8 hours have an average life expectancy less than those who sleep 6 or 7. It’s all averages, so don’t anyone go thinking they are going to die soon because they get 8 hours!December 6, 2019 at 3:56 pm #34367
Thanks, Daf!December 6, 2019 at 3:57 pm #34368
gsdmom✘ Not a client
Da1265 – I’m glad you ordered the Sleep Book, its a fairly short, easy read but take your time getting through it. I just reviewed parts of it again since I had a relapse two weeks ago. Once I started sleeping well I slowly fell out of the recommended practices. The past 3 nights I’ve had bad sleep onset issues, but at least getting about 5 hours sleep a night. But that is only because with my current work situation the earliest I need to arrive is 9am, so I can sleep in to 6:30am or 7am, but in a couple weeks changing jobs and will need to start at 7am, so I’m hoping me sleep onset will improve as I’ll need to fall asleep earlier.
Although the Sleep Book recommends staying in bed if you can’t sleep, I remember Deb saying at times she would get up and journal. The last 2 nights I got out of bed at 11:30am and 12am and went downstairs to write in a journal for about 30 minutes. One night I fell asleep in about 5 minutes after journaling, the 2nd night it took an hour, but at least I slept enough to get me through the day.December 6, 2019 at 4:07 pm #34369
Thank you so so much Deb. I ordered The Sleep Book it should be here by Monday! I just so badly more than anything else just want to sleep normal again and cure my insomnia. It scares me though because most people here say they have to stay on top of it to keep their insomnia in check and that terrifies me. I’ll give up my 9-10 hour nights I’ll even give up naps if that’s what it takes but the idea that never again will I be able to go out late and have long nights out with my friends, or go hiking or camping like I did when I was 17-19. I would go out hiking or camping with my friends and still be able to get 8 hours sleeping in a shitty sleeping bag in a tiny tent and it was never a problem. I feel like I’m missing out on so much fun and adventure of my youth because my insomnia holds me back. I had a relationship of 2 years and I could never sleep in her bed I could only ever sleep a little bit if i was in my bed and I had to be sleeping in it alone. It just scares me so much that this is the rest of my life now. I’d give anything to get rid of my insomnia and be a normal kid again. I really appreciate all the advice and information you have given me I read that ACT and CBT are pretty different I’m gonna try ACT first and I’ll keep in touch and let you know how it’s going. Thank you again! And yes please what are some good CBT books you recommend just in case hahaDecember 6, 2019 at 4:27 pm #34370
David – just want to let you know that I’m sleeping normally now and not afraid of doing things that I did before the insomnia (although being a grandma now, I’m not big into staying up late drinking & partying!) So you can heal completely from this. ACT helps you learn to relax and let go of anxiety over sleep, which in turn helps you to fall asleep. I still have a little anxiety now and then, but when I do I just remind myself to not worry about it and then I fall asleep. But it takes awhile to get to the point where our anxiety has decreased a lot. ACT will help you do that.
I think that this is probably the best book out there on CBT-I: End the Insomnia Struggle by Colleen Ehrnstrom and Alisha Brosse. These are two psychologists who specialize in this area. They explain the two behavioral strategies of SR, restricting your time in bed, and SC, getting up when you can’t sleep. Also they explain different cognitive (thinking) strategies including mindfulness as well as others.
When I was doing my research I went to the library and got out 4 books on sleep. Of all 4 there were only 2 that mentioned CBT-I. One book had 1 page in the Appendix on it – that’s it! The other had 5 pages total (out of 200 or more) on SC. That’s all I found. The most recent book of the 4 had nothing on it. So it seems a lot of sleep doctors know nothing about about CBT-I or ACT and have no answers for those of us suffering from chronic insomnia, which in my opinion is the WORST kind of insomnia to have! By the way, it was reading the 5 pages on SC that led me to look up stimulus control on the internet and find Martin’s website.December 6, 2019 at 5:06 pm #34371
I really really appreciate the conversation Deb you have no idea. Not even so much oh I just wanna be able to go and get drunk if I want (which would be nice though haha) but what if I wanna go to a concert or go camping or have a relationship where I can stay up all night lying in bed watching TV with someome I care about you know? I want that to still be available. I appreciate all the book recommendations very much and I’ll keep you up to date if I make any progress. You definitely give me hope!December 6, 2019 at 5:09 pm #34372
You’re right though insomnia is such a tricky issue. Cause I feel a lot of people go through insomnia at some point in life if for maybe a couple weeks or a couple months or for a couple nights at a time but they bounce back. For people suffering chronic acute insomnia for years things look a lot more bleak it’s not something that is mainstream enough with wide available fixes and cures you knowDecember 6, 2019 at 10:10 pm #34377
Glad to help. I hate insomnia!December 6, 2019 at 10:25 pm #34360
Daf✘ Not a client
Oh finally, if I do drink alcohol I will stick to spirits as beer tends to make me wake and need the toilet. And I do smoke occasionally if out with other smokers, which is a thing that’s getting rarer all the time these days.
I think the key is to let go and lead a normal life and try to not get too obsessed about sleep…Try to be in acceptance…. .. not easy I know, whilst at same time restricting sleep to low amounts and then slowly building up.December 7, 2019 at 4:27 pm #34380
Mac – how’s this week been for you?December 8, 2019 at 12:15 am #34381
Mac0908✘ Not a client
Hi Deb. Coming off of the relapse from the week prior this past week has been ok. I haven’t had flawless nights but I also haven’t had any bad nights. I need to continue to be smart and do my mindfulness leading up to bed. Slacking from that helped trigger that first relapse for sure, as did looking at the clock during my early awakenings. But even mediocre sleeping this week aside, there really is something super special and different about this phase of my recovery, in the sense that before it I would internally worry when going to bed anytime before 11pm, and I’ve had several nights in just this past week where I got away with it fine. That’s just so huge, and I have ACT to thank for it of course. So yes I’m still struggling a bit this past week, but i’m doing better.
Last night I slept almost 7 hours but it was very light sleep, I felt. The dark circles and bags were there in the morning but i was not completely shot during the day today. I’m feeling very strong that tonight will be a good night. My mentality at this stage is just so different than anything in the past 11 months, Deb. Hopefully by my one year anniversary on 1/1/20 I’ll be in a much better place.
As always, thanks for checking in and caring. How’ve you been doing? Always helps of course to hear how someone who’s recovered continues to sleep ok.
December 8, 2019 at 3:03 am #34383
- This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Mac0908.
Mac0908✘ Not a client
Daf – You brought up eye bags/dark circles which has always been one of my main concerns since this all began years ago. For me at least, the bags do subside after I start sleeping better, but it’s the dark circles that seem permanently embedded. Sure they aren’t as awful if I have a great night, but overall there is always the purple hue under my eyes from these years of bad sleeping that I am unsure if they will ever go away. I usually put a drop of concealer on them these days and I’d like to one day get to a point where I no longer need to.
Da – Just relax my friend. I feel your pain, especially since you’re so young. You have to understand that you can and (hopefully) WILL get past all of this to a point where you’ll absolutely be able to do whatever you want again and not worry about sleep. But right NOW at least, for the immediate future, you have to be disciplined and you have to respect your sleep window. If you want to calm your nervous system and attempt to get back on track, then no, you really don’t want to be having any 2am nights or late lie in’s. Will you ever forget about insomnia and what it’s done to your life? No. These memories will be with you forever just like they’ll be with me, in some capacity. But don’t think for a second doesn’t mean you can’t recover and be an even BETTER sleeper even if it means always keeping a small eye on your sleep in some way in the long term. Right now though, you have to step up your will power as much as you possibly can.
December 8, 2019 at 9:42 am #34389
- This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by Mac0908.
Lauriso✘ Not a client
I’m completely new to the forums, was just browsing and noticed something Deb wrote:
“With either type of insomnia, the problem is that even if consciously we think we are relaxed, the brain is still on high alert when we’re asleep. So that’s why we wake up and then can’t fall back asleep. In my case, that’s why I would have light sleep all night.”
This is what I’ve been suspecting too! Because I don’t consciously feel anxious or depressed. I remember taking Xanax for two nights once when it was really bad, and it seemed to help. Which would support the “subconscious anxiety” theory. But how can that even be?December 8, 2019 at 9:51 pm #34396
Hi Lauriso – welcome to the forum! I had a few therapy sessions with Dr. Kat from The Sleep School and she explained this to me. She’s a sleep doctor and said that she used to do primarily research on sleep before she got into doing insomnia therapy. She said that they did research comparing the brains of people with insomnia with the brains of normal sleepers, while they were sleeping. For people with insomnia, the amygdala, which is the emotional center and controls the fight or flight response, is much more active than that in normal people. So it’s on high alert all the time, waiting for any signs of danger, even while we’re asleep. That’s why for insomniacs our sleep can be shallow or we wake up very easily. It’s sort of like trying to sleep in a war zone. The brain can’t completely relax when it thinks that danger might be right around the corner. That’s why ACT therapy is good for insomnia because it helps to calm down the brain.
How long have you had insomnia and which kind do you have? Sleep onset, sleep maintenance or both? I had sleep onset, many times taking hours before falling asleep. When I finally started to fall asleep consistently through practicing ACT, my sleep was very shallow with lots of dreams or being in and out of sleep all night. I worried about the shallow sleep so that’s why I contacted Dr. Kat. She reassured me that this was normal. Over time my sleep consolidated and lengthened and now I have recovered from insomnia.December 9, 2019 at 1:06 pm #34405
It’s been awhile since I posted and I’ve been catching up on the other posts. Glad everyone is progressing, even if slowly. I am also progressing slowly. Friday night, I had about a 7 hour sleep and Saturday night I had about a 7.5 hour sleep. I usually can do pretty good on the weekends but this weekend was really good. During the week is another story and I think it’s because I stress over having to get up and go to work. Last night, I awoke from a very bad dream about an hour after I initially fell asleep and couldn’t get back to sleep right away. Between 10:30 and 3:00, I figure I got another hour in of light sleep and then a deep sleep from 3:00 to 4:00 and 4:15 to 5:15. So I am not a zombie today but don’t nearly feel as well as yesterday. I did go to the neurologist last week and she assured me that while she isn’t saying all of my symptoms are being caused by insomnia, I have to remember that everything I mention can be caused by it. So I am comfortable with that part of it. And then she tried to put me on a tricyclic anti-represent for my headaches. i told her no thank you. I am not going through the anti-depressant route again. So, I am going to go for an acupuncture treatment tonight and then just go to bed with the intention of just getting some rest.
Deb – Are you still taking the anxiety meds? Are you planning to come off soon?
Mac – Two things that I noticed you mentioned a couple of times in your posts. The first is clock watching. In ACT, it’s okay to look at the clock during the night. There is nothing wrong with that. The thing to watch for is how you react to looking at the clock. (See page 175 in The Sleep Book.) If you personally don’t want to look at the clock and want to hide it so you don’t see it, that’s perfectly okay. But I don’t want others in this ACT thread to think that they can’t look at the clock if they awaken or get up to go to the bathroom. The second is that you mention you look forward to a good sleep that night. We have had two people here talk to Dr. Kat at The Sleep School. Deb was one. I forget who the other was but Dr. Kat told him that thinking we are going to have a good night that night is actually a bad thought. That may seem odd but the theory is that if you keep thinking that and it doesn’t happen, it will cause anxiety. With ACT, when you go to bed, you should only be practicing Acceptance and Letting Go. Hope this helps.
Hope everyone out there continues to improve.