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- January 7, 2020 at 4:39 am #34854
Well, looks like I jinxed myself yesterday. Had my first bad night of the new year last night. A rough early awakening. Usually I don’t look at the clock but it was funny, bc when I woke I could have sworn it was close to my alarm of 6am. Then I peaked over and it was 5a. That was all I needed to see to do me in. 90% of the time I can’t fall back asleep if it’s already that late. I need to remember my own personal rules, one of which is, unless you hear that alarm, DON’T look at your clock! Thing is though, I tend to get anxious also about the fact that the alarm won’t go off. But then I have to tell myself I also have my iPhone alarm set too. Odds of both of them failing is probably .005%. Oh well then. Gotta focus on understanding this isn’t a big deal, and tonight I will get back to normal, or close to it. Deb how’d you do?January 7, 2020 at 6:34 am #34855
Manfred – I also suffer anxiety and have had what you are going through now. I have had insomnia so long though that I no longer obsess about it. My mind instead obsesses about everything else! I found what helped was distracting myself every time a thought about sleep came to me. So when the thought came, I would acknowledge it, but then move my mind back to what I was doing and the more I did that, that thought or obsession started to arrive less and soon I forgot about it. It is hard to forget though or not obsess because we feel so physically bad and are reminded we slept poorly, but nowadays, I know that stressing does no good so I have learned to stop with it. I still have a very busy, busy mind that is all over the place so I am still working on that because when I go to bed, I think all night long. Such was my night last night! Nil sleep. But not giving the sleep problem the attention it wants really got rid of the obsessing thoughts for me. The exercises in The Sleep Book I find very difficult as it is very hard for me to stay focused on one thing. I think the simplest of them all is the breathing exercise where you count breath in 1, breath out 2, up to 10. Maybe try that when the thought about sleep comes? Hope this gets better for you soon.January 7, 2020 at 8:39 am #34857
Thank you very much. One question, if I may ask you: did you take any meds (antidepressants, anti-anxiety)?January 7, 2020 at 8:42 am #34858
Hi Manfred – welcome to the forum. I take a medication for anxiety. Are you taking anything for that? Since you have so much anxiety, you may want to consider getting some professional help through counseling as well as medication. I don’t have much anxiety in general except about the insomnia. How long have you had insomnia and do you have trouble initially falling asleep or do you wake up too early and can’t fall back asleep?
In The Sleep Book, Dr. Guy recommends you do mindfulness during the daytime first because it’s a lot easier in the daytime than when you’re lying in bed alone with all your thoughts. I think this would probably be a good place for you to start. He suggests doing the exercises maybe 5 times a day just for a few minutes each time. When you get the hang of it, then try practicing it at night. The goal of doing mindfulness in bed is to calm yourself down. Once you’re calm then just lay there in bed doing nothing so that sleep naturally comes. Acceptance means accepting on a nightly basis that you may or may not sleep that particular night. With this attitude then you stop struggling with your insomnia and instead just relax. Then once your mind is out of the way your body can take over and put you to sleep.
Mac – last night for me was better. I was really exhausted when I went to bed, but for myself, that still is no guarantee that I will fall asleep. Fortunately I did fall asleep within an hour or so. Then I woke up a couple times. I fell back asleep both times, although not right away. So today I’m feeling much better. I think I’m realizing about myself that I have this pattern of avoidance and running away from my insomnia. I guess you could also call it fear of my insomnia (and also fear of doing ACT since the first night or two are usually difficult). So I’ve had lots of stops and starts with ACT this last month, falling back on props like pills and alcohol, and as a result, have not made progress. Last night there were no props at all so hopefully I can keep this up.
Sorry you had a bad night, Mac, but at least you know what caused it so you can do something about it. Just wondering – do you still wake up most week nights and when you do, are you usually able to fall back asleep? If so, has ACT helped you to fall back asleep more easily?January 7, 2020 at 8:52 am #34859
It seems like within the last 10 days or so, which in the grand scheme of things is nothing, I’ve been able to at least drift back off into a more calm decent sleep if I have the early awakenings, instead of the usual anxious/light sleep when I’d beat myself up over the awakenings. So, at least for the time being, I do feel I may have turned a corner as far as handling them. That being said who knows. For all I know (and I hate to say this) this could be the start of another downward spiral. Bad thing to say, I know, and I should understand that I’ll be just fine and will continue to improve. The key though of course is not panicking and learning to accept the awakening, and almost EXPECT it in a way, not to mention keeping my eyes off that clock. Even before insomnia ever began, looking at my clock and seeing a time I didn’t like gave me problems.January 7, 2020 at 8:58 am #34860
I don’t post much but I wanted to share again what has been key for me to heal my insomnia. It’s a process for sure, my sleep isn’t perfect. I go to bed by 10 and am usually wide awake by 5:45 or 6. Anxiety is a problem for me as well, was on Lexapro for 30 years. Went off 2 years ago. If I have a health scare, argument with a child etc. my insomnia reappears. I have a problem with an overactive, anxious and ruminating mind. The key to ACT is mindfulness! Every day. Not at night, during the day. 15 to 20 minutes. I have been very consistent with this, and it has greatly helped my daytime anxiety as well. Sleep Book Chapter 2, p. 85 and on, talks about this being the key to Acceptance. Mindfulness is living in the present moment. If you don’t practice it in the daytime, you can’t reach a place of Acceptance at night. I have recommended before the TenPercent Happier App. They have new meditations every day. I have never done the same one twice. I have been doing this faithfully since May. Hundreds and hundreds of minutes. Mindfulness helps me realize that my thoughts are nothing, they can’t hurt me. As Dr. Guy says in his website meditations, they are like passing train cars. You are on the platform watching them go by. You don’t interact with them. It takes practice during the day, then it is easier at night! I’m sleeping with my husband now, being flexible with my sleep window. Going out at night. I have my life back! CBTI with Martin got me so far, and this helped me over the finish line. It has helped greatly with daytime anxiety as well. It hurts my heart to hear you all taking about acceptance if you’re not putting the time in to practice Mindfulness religiously during the day. Mindfulness changes the Amygdala of the brain, it works!
Praying for all of you on this journey.January 7, 2020 at 9:04 am #34861
Manfred – I have Xanax and Klonopin on hand which I use sparingly, but just having the medication is a comfort. I have taken Lexapro and thought it a good medication until the dose I was on did not help and I was told I had to increase, that the body does get used to it even if is not considered addictive. That didn’t appeal to me so I went off. I have been to therapy for anxiety in the past, but it still continues to be a struggle for me. I have to work at it. The biggest obstacle is trying to get the racing thoughts under control. I don’t have panic attacks thankfully. I just think very deeply about everything. Is this what you struggle with the most as well?January 7, 2020 at 9:17 am #34862
KarenP – Thanks for sharing. I started doing it regularly, and then stopped, but will resume practicing again. With the app, which category of meditations do you the to use most? There are categories such as Stress, Happiness, Focus, On the Go, Sleep. Will all of the above allow for the same result which is a change in the Amygdala? And is meditation something then you have to do indefinitely to maintain that change?January 7, 2020 at 11:53 am #34863
@deb – thanks for your reply and the infos.
Well, my story is the following: in 2005, I had a surgery. Before that I had already some mild sleep anxiety, but then it got worse and out of control because I thought I need to sleep in order to help the healing etc. Of course, I had several bad nights and got very anxious. This anxiety draged me down during the day. Later came – byproduct of anxiety – intrusive thoughts aso. I sought professional help (counselling) and I got prescribed an antidepressant around 2006 or 2007 which I take till today. Things got better, but in the background, this sleep anxiety was always lingering. My big problem is anxiety since the “facts” were not the problem. I never had “real insomnia” like you guys here. But my mind is easily castastrophizing so even one bad night frightens me a lot. So I always feared insominia.
14 years later, this November, due to high stress, it got serious. Intensive anxiety around sleep after a few bad nights. I started CBTI with Martin and things got better. But since last Thursday, I am again in this “hole”.
As I said, my problem is anxiety. I have developped an intensive “sleep phobia”. My catastrophizing mind gives me existential threats, which drag me down during the day (esp. in the morning). The come intrusive thoughts, it is all obsessive. But it is all around sleep. When a few weeks ago, I slept again very good, all my anxiety, bad thoghts, were gone.
Since there is no sleep specialist here, I autodidact myself and read many books aso. I also see a psychologist.
I don’t know what to do right now. Take a lot of “pills”? Work with ACT – anxiety is the root cause, but I don’t know if I can manage it with my obsessive mind? I am familiar with mindfulness and have medidated for some periods the last years, but I don’t have the feeling it help me. Should I do a new round of CBTI – but it gives me lots of anxiety and pressure.
I am confused and frightend.January 7, 2020 at 11:57 am #34864
@ whitelori – thanks for your reply. Yead, sounds quite familiar. I just had one panic attack in my life (2005). My problem is anxiety, intrusive thoughts, obsessive ruminating.January 7, 2020 at 12:41 pm #34865
On Ten Percent Happier, start with the Basic Meditations. There are 15 total. The App is $99 a year I think, you can do a free trial for a week. I love them all. They have some for everything, stress, anxiety, dealing with difficult emotions. It’s such a beautiful compliment to the Sleep Book. I need a guided meditation. I can’t do it on my own as effectively. I have a set time every night when my husband takes a shower, after dinner. Around 7 pm, I look forward to this time every day! It has helped with ongoing daytime anxiety as well, because the meditations are all alike in that they help you to be in the present moment. I use the tools I’ve learned if I’m I’m ruminating on an anxious thought. Bring mindful is recognizing it, noting it and returning to my breath. It takes practice. I’ll say to myself, “Oh Hello Scary Thought! Welcome! Same thing as being Mindful at night. Hope this helps. There’s Science behind Mindfulness and anxiety, but you have to make time every day to practice it. It’s a skill. Blessings to all! Another cool thing, is I’ve never done the same meditation twice. The app also keeps track of your meditation hours and can schedule reminders.January 7, 2020 at 1:08 pm #34866
Manfred – Yep, 100% the same exact thing I deal with every day. I understand.
KarenP – Thank you for the tips and advice. I will try it. I have nothing to lose!January 8, 2020 at 3:08 am #34872
@deb – you said “I take a medication for anxiety” – if I may ask: do u take regularly (each day) or just when needed? It is a anti-depressant, a benzo??
Thanks in advanceJanuary 8, 2020 at 7:44 am #34886
Mac – I don’t see you spiraling downward if you just continue to do what you’re doing. It does sound like you have turned a corner as far as handling the awakenings in a helpful way. As long as you don’t panic or beat yourself up you should be fine. But if you do, just remind yourself that it’s not helpful, be gentle with yourself and relax again. Just wondering, are you still going to bed 10:30 to 11:00? Are you getting enough sleep now on the nights you wake up and fall back to sleep?
Manfred – Every day I take Effexor which is an antidepressant. I take the lowest dosage of 37.5 mg. With such a low dosage, I don’t know if it’s really making any difference or not but I’m taking it anyway as a precaution until I’m really sure I’m well on way to complete recovery and handling relapses well. I also take it for the sake of my poor husband who has a hard time when I’m completely bent out of shape!
Manfred, I was thinking about you yesterday and was wondering if it might be best for you to go back on CBT-I since your sleep anxiety is so high right now. You said you did well on it before, so you would do well on it again. I would encourage you to become a client of Martin because he is excellent and can coach you on this on a day to day basis. He is very accessible and helpful. I did the 8-week paid course with him and would email him whenever I was struggling or had questions. He would always get back to me soon.
It just seems to me that your anxiety is so high that it might be hard to do ACT which involves a lot of work on your thinking. With CBT-I you don’t have to think about anything. You just do it and then it works. Many of us here on this forum did CBT-I first and then later ACT. By the time we did ACT, our anxiety was a lot lower because we gained confidence in our ability to sleep. We switched over then because we felt we had reached a plateau with CBT-I and ACT helped us get to the finish line, like Karen said. You could do ACT later also, when your anxiety is lower. Then again, you might fully recover from CBT-I alone, just like most of Martin’s clients have.
About me – last night when I laid in bed I realized that I was really relaxed. I didn’t have to get myself into a relaxed state like I did the night before. I just was. It seemed like I was awake the first half of the night but I might have been in and out of light sleep. Woke up at 6:30 not refreshed but decent, so I’ll be fine today. This seems to be my pattern with ACT. First the long nights, then the light sleep, then it gets better. I feel like I’m back on the road to recovery.January 8, 2020 at 7:59 am #34887
Thanks for the encouraging words, Deb. Really appreciate them. I’ve actually been going to sleep earlier, often before 10:30pm. At least right now and hopefully forever, I’m passed the whole anxiousness of going to bed before a certain timeframe. ACT really helped me get there. Still doesn’t change the fact that awakenings are happening, but right now it’s about just continuing to learn how to handle them as you said. Still a bit of a challenge for me some nights. Last night for example I was out cold by 10:30pm and had an awakening around 5am-ish (I estimate this bc I didn’t look at my clock). You’d think 6.5 hours is ok for me, but I don’t know what happened. The sleep must have been a bit anxious or light bc for whatever reason I am pretty tired today. Wasn’t a bad night by any means, but it also wasn’t great. That’s the other thing. It’s not JUST about learning to get quantity of sleep, but quality as well. That’s something IMO that will just come with more time, and more ACT.
Very glad to read that you might be turning a corner as well now