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- January 3, 2020 at 5:53 am #34809
Steve – Thank you, yes reading the book over is helping to remember the details of ACT.
Deb-Last night, I felt I was working all night to combat thoughts with mindfulness. Now I remember why I abandoned it early on. I was waking up with headaches working all night to keep my brain calm and felt it was working against me. So I see your point 100%. I’m thinking the better goal is to work during the day on the mindfulness? I like the easy breathing and counting to 10 exercise the most at night if needed because it is easy and doesn’t require too much thinking. I understand the analogy of listening to a lecturer and just falling off. Thank you for the offer to help with Dr. Kat as well.January 3, 2020 at 7:37 am #34812
gsdmom✘ Not a client
About ACT and practicing mindfulness – when I first started there were a few nights when I got zero sleep because I believe I kept my mind active all night practicing. However during those nights I did learn to relax, accept and let go so the next day I did not feel so exhausted compared to the nights of doing CBT-i or just laying there stressing out about my situation. There are still nights where I monitor my sleep too much making it difficult to fall asleep.
I tried to practice “welcoming” negative thoughts during the day, it was good for me as they were very uncomfortable and I wouldn’t want to face them all night, and then I could see how they would pass and not be so scared of them. For example I’d go on a 45 minute hike, at the beginning of the hike I’d be welcoming several different negative thoughts and I’d name them. At the end of the hike, I’d check in and realize some of the thougth were gone, had dropped off, sometimes replaced with joyful feelings. I think one the most favorable things about ACT was feeling more rested, even if I was not sleeping or sleeping well during the night, learning to relax in bed definitely increased my daytime energy, and with more energy I would feel a bit better, get more tasks done, and while doing them I would start to forget about insomnia, the thought of insomnia would not dominate my mind.January 3, 2020 at 8:29 am #34813
Hi Whitelori – yes, you’re definitely working too hard and it’s keeping you awake! It might be best to practice more during the day. That’s what Dr. Guy recommends. I remember Borgesbi saying that when she first started, she practiced for 2 hours before going to bed. That’s how long it took her to let go of everything and get to the place of acceptance. But within a few days or a week it was taking her less and less time to get to that place. By then she knew what acceptance “felt like” and then could more easily “press the acceptance button” and get to that place of calm.
Just try to remember that the goal is to get to the point of peaceful acceptance, whether in bed or out of bed. For myself, when I’m feeling anxious about my sleep and can’t settle down my mind, I find it helpful to get up and journal for a while. Usually I’ll discover that I’m “struggling” again with my insomnia. I “catch myself in the act” of struggling. It’s so easy for this to be our default mode without our even realizing it. So it takes time and the development of awareness to be able to recognized the difference between struggling and peaceful acceptance.
Here’s an update on my last several nights. Sunday night I took an Ambien because I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to catch an early flight. Monday night I struggled. I was exhausted and went to bed at 9:00. But couldn’t sleep and got up twice, once at 10:30 and again around 1:30. Each time I had a white Russian and tried to journal. Eventually I fell asleep. Tuesday I realized that the night before I was trying to force myself to sleep with the drink and that I was sabotaging myself. I caught myself in the act of struggling. So Tuesday night I went to bed with an accepting attitude. It was a long night but I stayed calm. I finally got some sleep in the early morning hours so was not a complete Zombie. Tuesday I also realized that I was coming down with a flu bug. Wednesday I was tired all day due to the bug. I took a 2 hour nap in the afternoon from 2-4. That night I took 2 Niquil tablets for the flu. I slept from about 11 to 7, and then fell asleep again until 10. Then last night I took the tablets again and slept 8 hours. Feeling better today. Not sure if the good sleep the last 2 nights is due to the flu, the tablets, ACT, or all of the above. Anyway, I’ll take it!January 3, 2020 at 6:32 pm #34818
gdsmom – Thank you for sharing. I am not sure I have felt more rested with ACT yet when practicing it in the night if happens all night. I hope I can get to that point where I have relaxed, accepted and let go, yet feel energized if I have no deep sleep. I do a lot of mindfulness when I walk in the late afternoon, but I do find it extremely difficult because my mind wanders within a minute no matter how much I practice. I am welcoming negative thoughts and that does seem to help them from coming as much. I do feel a sense of relief to acknowledge them and then say goodbye. I hope I can feel energized enough like you to help forget insomnia. It is very hard though to forget insomnia when the physical effects are so awful. Thanks again for taking the time to respond to me!
Deb-I was so happy to read you had some very good nights. I’m with you that it doesn’t matter the reason necessarily, but that you got them! I do have those times where I do sleep unexpectedly and I’m elated so I don’t evaluate too much. I will try to keep most of the mindfulness practice during the day and try to get that place of acceptance. I really thought I have accepted my insomnia, but I do struggle with frustration sometimes just because it feels so darn awful. The thoughts mentioned in the book like everyone is sleeping but me, I will look awful tomorrow, etc., do still come so I need to work on that. Writing does help me sometimes as my mind races so badly not just about sleep, but about life! I’m not sure I could work for 2 hours to get to a place of acceptance every night. I’m one of those who find mindfulness a frustrating exercise, but I am trying. I do like the acceptance of thoughts as that feels more of a relief than trying to pay attention completely to the present. I hope your good streak continues and thoughts and prayers for everyone!January 4, 2020 at 10:26 am #34824
Whitelori – Acceptance of your insomnia doesn’t mean that you overall accept your insomnia as something you have to live with forever. Its normal to feel frustration. But at night try to let go of any frustration and concerns. Take it one night at a time and accept that you may not sleep this particular night. When you can finally get to that place of acceptance at night and can be completely calm and relaxed, then paradoxically you’ll start falling asleep. But you may be like Carlos, where your sleep does not improve the first two weeks. Also like him, I think the most important thing for you right now is to learn what it “feels like” to be in that relaxed state of acceptance and calm at night. Once you get the feel for that then consistency in doing this is important. Then your brain (unconscious as well as conscious) starts to trust that the bed is a safe place and you’ll begin to fall asleep more easily.
To tell you the truth, I hardly practiced mindfulness at all (although it’s probably a good thing for anyone to do.) I didn’t really need to do it because I knew what it “felt like” to be in that state of acceptance and relaxation at night. So for myself, my challenge has been more about “catching myself” struggling and then shifting to that place of acceptance. This is not to discourage you from doing mindfulness, but just to let you know that the most important thing and the goal of mindfulness is to get to the place of acceptance, whatever it takes to get there. Dr. Kat said that the number one thing that determined how long it takes people to recover is their ability to get to that place of acceptance. So if you were able to to experience even one night of complete acceptance and relaxation, that would be milestone for you. (Or even a few hours.)January 4, 2020 at 2:23 pm #34826
Hi Deb – Thank you. That was extremely helpful to read. I have had that night or even moments of complete acceptance I think, because that is when I do sleep. But I feel better that mastering mindfulness is not the goal and that it is okay not to use it. I was feeling like ACT would not work if I didn’t master this skill day or night. I will work on that complete acceptance and relaxation and as you said, whatever it takes to get there. Those thoughts about accepting whatever happens helps, but it can still be a night of wakefulness. I know it takes time so I will try and be consistent and hopefully I will have positive results. Thank you for the help and support.January 4, 2020 at 9:11 pm #34828
You’re welcome. I’m no expert on acceptance, but it just makes sense to me. If you accept whatever happens each night (that you may or may not sleep), then there isn’t any struggle or effort to try to sleep. As result you’re relaxed and eventually will fall asleep. I like the way Dr. Guy talks about Carlos on page 114 and how he finally learned to relax in bed. Because he was no longer expending a lot of energy in bed trying to fall asleep, then he had more energy the next day. Also, he was teaching his brain that bed was a safe place, which resulted in his eventual recovery.
One thing that has helped me during the long nights when I’m awake is reminding myself that eventually I usually do fall asleep, even if for only 2-3 hours in the early morning. My mind can wander and wander all night but eventually the body takes over and knocks me out. I’m lucky in that I don’t have to get up early at a set time, so if I need to sleep in to get these few hours of sleep, then I can. I may wake at 8 or 8:30 on those mornings. Also, I know that with at least a few hours of sleep I’ll be ok the next day and not a complete zombie. So this helps me keep a more positive, hopeful attitude.January 5, 2020 at 12:05 pm #34833
Deb-Thank you as all you have said is really helpful whether you are an expert or not. I do usually nod off near the early morning hours during a night of thoughtful wandering, and I also do not have to get up for any reason so I am very fortunate about that. I am going to keep all that you said and refer to it. It is easy to forgot sometimes and then the anxiety returns and seems to dominate over everything we know. I have memorized “complete acceptance and calm no matter what it takes to get there.” 🙂 And that does make a whole lot of sense.January 5, 2020 at 12:55 pm #34836
Glad things are making more sense to you, Whitelori. Now I just have to practice what I preach. Sometimes I feel like the blind leading the blind because I certainly don’t have this down perfectly.
Last night was an example. I was getting over the flu so I didn’t take any Niquil. As a result, I laid in bed awake all night. I figured this would probably happen and accepted it. I was able to stay calm all night until I made a mistake. I got up to use the bathroom and peeked at the clock. It was 6:00! If I hadn’t seen the clock I probably would have eventually fallen asleep and gotten 2 or 3 hours of sleep, thinking that maybe it was 4 or 5. But since it was six I knew that the morning light would be coming up soon and my husband also would be getting up soon. So this kept me awake. I was a zombie at 8:30 when I tried to get up. I hated the idea of being a zombie all day so I broke down and took an Ambien. I fell back asleep until 1:00 p.m.
This is a setback. Oh well. Tonight I’ll get back on the horse and do it right (and not look at the clock.) Dr. Guy is not completely against looking at the clock, but in some cases like this, it’s just unhelpful. Looking back over the past month since this relapse began, I realize I haven’t had more than 2 or 3 days in a row of practicing ACT correctly. That’s why I’m not getting anywhere. I keep postponing it due to vacations, special events and all kinds of holiday distractions, giving myself justifications to wait. I need to have long term thinking like I did back in July when I finally recovered and be willing to stick with it for at least two weeks. With no excuses.January 5, 2020 at 4:54 pm #34837
Deb-I often find myself not practicing what I preach, so I understand! You have been such an inspiration to so many, but none of this easy to implement so you will get back on track because you know what to do. I don’t think I would consider anything you have described a setback really, because life happens and things can get very stressful especially during the holidays. I’m sorry to hear you saw the clock. I have done that by accident many times and it really does cause the worst anxiety about sleep. I think you will bounce back quickly especially as we have only a few more months of these shorter days. I notice for myself anyway that things become very difficult with the fall back clock change and then the holidays that follow. So better days are coming for sure. I slept better last night , but I did take a very small dose of Xanax. Sometimes I take one, but try very hard not to.January 6, 2020 at 10:52 am #34845
Had another rough night. Maybe I do need to practice mindfulness. Could not settle my mind down at all. Was a zombie when I finally got up today around 7:30. Was so, so tempted to take an Ambien and just throw up my arms. But that would just be another repeat of yesterday. Instead, I laid down on the couch and was able to fall asleep for a couple hours, thank goodness. Not too much sleep like yesterday and continuing my dependency on pills, but not too little. So I feel halfway decent and can get through the day.January 6, 2020 at 11:07 am #34846
Mac0908✘ Not a client
Geez Deb, I feel terrible for what has been going on with you and this relapse. Even though its obvious, the main thing I can suggest for you is to really stay away from the pills unless its an absolute necessity (i.e. A special event the next day)
It seems as if the anxiety has really taken over here for you during this relapse so I’d suggest some serious mindfulness practice throughout the day, not just a specific small timeframe. That all being said the great thing is you have beat a relapse before, and you know you can do it again, even if this one is rather rough.
Since the new year I’ve been doing ok. No bad/zombie nights, yet. Mostly decent to good nights. Had that awful night New Years Eve bc I forgot to turn off my work alarm, but i’m obviously not counting that.January 6, 2020 at 11:11 am #34847
Deb-I’m so sorry. I also had a terrible night. I am wondering if the working on mindfulness just in the day would help. I can’t do it at night, but that is just me. Let us know if you think it makes a difference. I’m glad you at least had a couple of good hours.January 6, 2020 at 12:31 pm #34848
Need your help. I have intensive sleep anxiety and intrusive thoughts (a byproduct). I easily start to catastrophize and even get existential fears where this will lead.
I tried CBT-I rather successfully and had some greats weeks in December. I thought I had overcome my anxiety. But since last Thursday, it is back and I am back to “square one”.
I want to really work on my big problem: anxiety. So ACT could be the thing to do. I read about it (The Sleep Book”) but wonder how to really do it. There are so many “exercises” in it, I don’t know where to start exactly.
My big question is: how to really learn to accept this?? Theoretically, it sounds perfect, but how to do it in practice when you lie in the bed….?
Do you guys take meds?
Thanks in advance
ManfredJanuary 7, 2020 at 3:06 am #34853
And I have another question: since I seem to have GAD/OCD, so my sleep anxiety gives me anxiety the whole day, obsessing about it. How do you deal with that? Esp. the mornings are very tough, the evenings much better.