Want some expert advice to improve your sleep? Get the free insomnia sleep training course!
- March 6, 2020 at 8:35 am #35892
Very interesting yet somewhat understandable mindset with the choice to take the pills, Deb. So basically what you’re implying is that you know you are in the middle of a full fledged relapse and things aren’t going to change back for the better overnight, thus you are temporarily taking something to help you until you can restart ACT again, most notably because you have a rather important weekend coming up, is that right? I gotta say I think this is the right move because it also falls into “acceptance” in a way. Acceptance of the fact that you’re going to be in a rut for at least another week or so, maybe more.March 6, 2020 at 9:21 am #35893
You got it right, Mac.March 7, 2020 at 4:07 pm #35904
Deb – How’d your day end up today with family?
Steve – What’s new with you lately?
Last night I had an iffy night. Went to the gym today tired which I rarely ever choose to do. Pushed myself. I know what I have to do and how to do it, but I just can’t help but feel so down sometimes still. Looking in the mirror, all these years later, with the dark circles under my eyes on days like today. People next to me at the gym all energetic and talking like they have all the energy in the world. Just makes matters worse for me. No more hoping right now. Just going with whatever flow comes, understanding that in time things should get much better.March 9, 2020 at 8:09 am #35913
gsdmom✘ Not a client
A few of you wrote about being fragile without realizing it. This is certainly my situation. It seems to take so little to upset my sleep. I am seldom stressed about sleep itself anymore, but day to day stressors that would upset a normal person, maybe causing them to stay awake at night for an extra 20 minutes or so causes me to stay awake for hours.
I had 18 nights of normal sleep, then the past 5 nights back to irregular patterns. Two nights calling it an Ambien night since not asleep by 1am. The other night I actually fell asleep right away but had that weird lite sleep, started waking between 12:30am-1am. Then wide awake until 2am and so decided to take an Ambien. One night when I did not have work the following day, I skipped the Ambien and evetually fell asleep from 3:30am-6:30am and felt exhaused but at least had enough sleep drive to sleep 8 hours the following night.
The last month I’ve had home issues with termites and plumbing, got my car towed, got an IRS letter, and work schedule hours changing and increasing. Everything except my work was quickly resolved, my work hours should change in a few weeks. Not really major stressors, but they really seem to upset the subconsious part of the brain. Back in November I had nearly 3 weeks of normal sleep like now. Hoping I will fall back into a normal sleep pattern soon.March 9, 2020 at 11:37 am #35915
taylor45✘ Not a client
Yes, we are super fragile in our recovery. Loss of sleep can be traumatizing. For me it was a sudden thing and it scared me so much that now my brain has latched onto that fear.
Sucks that we learn trauma so quickly and how hard it is to unlearn it, but we will get back to normal someday I believe it.
Mac- I know the bags under the eyes suck, and you probably think everyone notices, but I guarantee that they don’t. everyone is so caught up in their own looks and in their own world they hardly notice anyone else (fortunately and unfortunately). Plus im sure you don’t look as tired as you think you do. The brain is funny that way. It’s like when someone with an eating disorder looks in the mirror and sees that they are fat even when they aren’t. You are looking for signs that you are exhausted and your brain will give you those signs if you let it. Try to focus less on how you look and comparing yourself to how others look and how energetic they look.
I once knew someone battling cancer who went to the gym every week and looked so energetic. Would have had no idea what they were going through, besides them telling me. You don’t know what other people are suffering with, and you’re not alone in your suffering. keep your head up things will get better.March 10, 2020 at 5:04 am #35917
Some very good points, Taylor. Though I can assure you that on bad days my dark circles are absolutely there. Fortunately I have a light cover up that I put on to help. That’s right, makeup. But anyway, we just have to keep moving on. We have to keep accepting and trying to naturally and peacefully slowly but surely get back to a mindset that we had prior to insomnia. With the right tools (I.e ACT) we will get there. It’s just a matter of how long that’s the unfortunate part. Could be a few months for some. For others (especially anxiety prone people like myself), much longer…March 10, 2020 at 10:15 am #35918
Had a good visit with family thanks to Ambien, which I took every night. But last night I got back on the program and basically had a nil night. I’m a zombie today. Hope it gets better soon.March 12, 2020 at 6:27 am #35930
Mac – how are you doing? The last couple nights I’ve been better. Took an hour or two to fall asleep each night but then slept decent. So things are moving in the right direction. Last night after an hour or more I thought about getting up and having a drink and reading awhile. But I made myself stay in bed because I’m trying to train my brain to fall asleep naturally, without any props or pills, just like before the insomnia.
One thing I like about ACT is that it helps you remember how to naturally surrender to sleep, just like normal sleepers do. I try to let go of any thoughts about not enough sleep drive or anything like that. I didn’t need a high sleep drive before the insomnia. Think about the example of depressed people, who sleep a lot. They don’t have a high sleep drive, but because they are depressed, they just tune out the world and fall asleep.March 12, 2020 at 7:17 am #35931
Hi Deb. Glad to hear you at least had some improvement the last couple of nights, though as we all know it’s really just about riding things out. Not to say you will, but tonight could easily be a bad night for you, but its how you REACT to it and handle it tomorrow that will determine more long term results. So just to try and verify Deb, since recovering the first time from ACT last year, how many relapses have you had?
I personally have been doing slightly better since my first one a couple of weeks ago, though ironically last night was probably my worst night since then. I’m an absolute zombie today like I haven’t been in quite some time. As we all know there’s a lot of craziness going on in the world right now and yesterday just shocked me when seeing some things on the tv late at night (I.e. NBA season suspended). I stayed up a little later than usual watching tv, texting with friends, and just being shocked by all this news. I went to bed kind of wired no doubt, and given my current fragile/in recovery condition, I just had a brutal night. Seemed to be up quite a bit/in light sleep for most of the night, etc. Absolutely shot today to a rather scary level.
But still, it’s all part of this process. In the grand scheme over the last 2 weeks I feel I’ve improved a bit on ‘acceptance’ more. I’ve come to a solid realization that one single bad night usually isn’t the case. It’s usually a few in a row, if not more, until we start to come out of it and reset again. This has helped my thoughts a lot. Hopefully as time goes on this will help my sleep even more.March 12, 2020 at 11:12 am #35933
Mac – I’ve had 3 relapses. The first one lasted a few weeks because I had 2 trips during that time where I decided to take Ambien so I could be alert during the trips. Also, I had some denial in the beginning of the relapse which postponed things for about a week. It only took a few days to recover once I finally got back on the program. The second relapse lasted 2 months because of mental blocks that were keeping me from getting back on the program. When I finally did, it took a little over a week to recover. This time I again had a trip so I decided to postpone the program until after the trip. We will see how long it takes to recover this time. So far, my recoveries have been fairly linear. I hope that is the case this time.
Sorry you had a bad night, Mac, and you’re a zombie today. But it’s good that you are learning more acceptance. I’m also trying to learn new things from each relapse. This time I didn’t have any mental blocks so I jumped right back into the program on the night I returned. I’m hoping the next time I relapse, I can nip it in the bud by practicing ACT the very first night I can’t sleep instead of slipping into frustration, or denial, or using pills or props.March 13, 2020 at 9:01 am #35940
The last couple nights for me have been a bit of a challenge. I’ve had a harder time settling down my mind and getting into that completely relaxed state where my mind just wanders and thinks about nothing in particular. A part of me wonders why this is happening now and I guess I’m just meant to learn something new. Also, maybe what I’m learning might be helpful to someone else.
I thought about something you said, Mac, and had a realization. Of course thinking about this realization kept me awake even longer! Mac, you have said that time will heal your insomnia. You seem to accept that there are going to be rough periods and that if you wait long enough, they will pass, and things will get better gradually over time. Although I agree with you to a certain extent, there are other things to consider as well. I’m going to make an analogy with the marriage coaching work that I do. Everyone has heard the statement, “You can’t change someone else but only yourself.” I teach my clients something along a similar line. Sometimes one spouse is desperate to get her needs met in the marriage but the way she goes about trying to get them met is through attempting to control her spouse through criticism and complaining. But this ends up backfiring and she only alienates her spouse even further. So I tell spouses that you can’t “control” your spouse, but that you can “influence” them. What I mean is that you can create an environment which is conducive to a healthier relationship and to better behavior on the part of your spouse. So for example, instead of criticizing, try being nice to your spouse even when you don’t feel like it or think that he doesn’t deserve it. Chances are then that your spouse might start being nicer to you as well.
Back to insomnia. We need to create an environment which is conducive to sleep. Of course this is what Dr. Guy emphasizes all the time when he says to do things that are “helpful” to our sleep and to stop doing things that are “unhelpful” like trying to control it. I have found that when I’m able to get into that really relaxed and accepting state, then ACT always works and my recovery is quick and like a straight line with no ups and downs. But the last couple of nights my mind has been getting in the way. So I need to find what works to settle down my mind so that I can get back into that completely relaxed state again.
Mac, I’m glad to hear that you are learning more “acceptance” at night when you wake up. That’s a great beginning. But it’s possible that you also need to learn how to completely relax your mind, which will create the environment for sleep to come. When you do, I believe your recovery will go smoother without all these really bad spells. I remember Nik Burn talking recently about his recovery and how he had to experiment and try different things to calm his mind. Finally he found what worked for him. This is also what I’m having to work on recently.March 15, 2020 at 11:56 am #35948
LCF✘ Not a client
I’m jumping in here after reading the first two chapters of The Sleep Book and now being convinced that this is the way for me to go.
I’ve had insomnia virtually all my life, since I was a child. I grew up in a chaotic household where my two middle-class parents apparently didn’t understand that watching loud TV at night and having arguments at 3 am. was not going to help their children sleep. I guess I learned that night time was not for sleeping, but rather waiting for the noise to stop so I could sleep.
I had insomnia all my life and ended up taking Ativan for 16 years so I could work. When I came off it 7 years ago, my sleep seemed to be okay for a few weeks, but it gradually faded away until I slept no more than 2 hours a night. It took me a few months, but eventually I started sleeping tolerably well again by just not worrying about it so much. We’re both retired. I don’t actually have to do much during the day. I thought it would be okay.
Then my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. And three weeks later we moved to a new city where we knew virtually nobody. We couldn’t stop the sale of our home because we’d already bought our new retirement home, so in the midst of the appointments with the Cancer Agency and hospital visits for scans and blood tests, I had to pack up 35 years worth of belongings and move us.
I am now the sole caregiver. Needless to say, sleep went out the window. It got so bad that my GP put me on mirtazapine, and when that stopped working, Seroquel. When that stopped working I had a year without sleep again and he prescribed 1/3 gm Lorazepam with 25-50 mg Seroquel a few months ago just so that I can stay sane and do what needs to be done.
The thing is, I know this is a temporary relief. The medications might keep working, and they might not. My husband might live another 3-5 years on chemo (and yes, that is a possibility), and he might not. I need a bit of certainty in my life.
I tried CBT – I last year and made me so stressed my sleep actually got worse over the 5-week course of “treatment.” Getting out of bed constantly during the night made my heart race and pound and there were many nights where I felt that suicide was actually the preferred option. During the last week I got about 10 hours of sleep in total. I never did get to the point where my sleep drive overcame the racing heart. I had severe panic attacks throughout the program. So that is absolutely 100% the wrong approach for me.
I think ACT will work for me because in the past I just accepted that insomnia was a part of my life. I’d have a couple of bad nights and return to my normal. And as recently as 6 years ago I got my sleep back on track simply by making a pact with myself not to make such a big deal of it.
Even though I’m on medication now, I’ve just started some of the methods described in The Sleep Book. I learned to meditate three years ago, though a grief counsellor. I gave up the practise during a three-month cancer emergency, but it seems to be exactly what is described in the book and I can start that again.
I see in this thread that many people have had greatly improved sleep, and I hope I’ll be one of them.
Cheers.March 16, 2020 at 6:06 am #35953
TiredTwinDad✘ Not a client
Hey everyone, I’m back. I’m writing this as a personal therapy, hoping that getting it down on the page takes it out of my head.
It’s been a while. I felt cured from the stress of insomnia and haven’t been to the sleep psyc since November, when she said I don’t need to go back. To Review, with her I did CBT-i, but I’m such a good rule follower, early awakenings ramped me up just enough where it wasn’t helping. ACT helped get me out of that funk, and she was pointing me in that direction even though she didn’t know how ACT was applied to insomnia. Once I figured out what was happening, I was able to relax more at night and sometimes fall back asleep.
Still had some rough patches, still occasionally took pills (though instead of once a week, it’s weeks longer in between). Part of my accepting did involve getting out of bed, I think at least half or more of the the nights. I could feel myself becoming more awake. So I would go downstairs, lay on the couch, put on a podcast(so I hear someone else’s voice besides my own) and just call it rest. Sometimes I might get a good rest with dreams, sometimes it’s undetermined light or feels like no sleep. For the most part, I was happy, exercising regularly (between 5:30-6:15a), I felt like I was accomplishing things. Regular meditation usually helps. I would occasionally skip a few days, and sometimes I would start stressing and having not great nights. Restarting a 10-day meditation, things would usually snap back mentally.
Even though it’s never been steady, I feel lately it’s been extra bad. I think it stems from last month, when I had some sinus drainage issues and that stressed me out because it made me start to really acknowledge my tinnitus. I think I’ve always had it (I’m a musician), but I started giving it more attention and it started bothering me. So even though I’ve been sleeping with it fine for years, now I’m trying to figure out how to deal with it. I started using white noise with some success. But now I’m also wondering if I’ve added a crutch.
This past week has had more 2a awakenings, in a row, with little or no sleep after. It got better for a few days (waking after 4a, woo!). But last night was another short night. It’s just really starting to get to me, to the point where those awakenings are more stressful at the moment. I’ve been trying not to check the clock, but sometimes it happens accidentally. Though I’m relatively not too stressed when I wake, as the time progresses, I tend to monitor myself more(when I’m more stressed about it). Even if there’s podcasts on, I tend to not listen.
*I’m trying to decide how much attention I need to give this issue. Should I re-read parts of the ACT book? Or do I keep meditating and take it one night at a time?*
I’m also stressing, since the kids will be off school for 3 weeks. I work an evening job, so even on bad nights, I had plenty of time during the day to relax. I don’t fear a short night as my energy comes back in the afternoon with a tiny 10 min nap. But my kids are still young, so I’ll be making lunches, breaking up fights, etc., and probably not getting time for self-care, much less 10 min of quiet. Maybe it won’t be so bad. And today is new instrument day (which comes sometimes once a year), so hopefully it plays well and cheers me up.
p.s. This post is crazy long. Maybe in April, close the post and start ACT 2020 Q2?March 18, 2020 at 10:09 am #35979
Welcome LCF. Sorry for all the difficulties you are experiencing right now with your long-time insomnia, your husband’s cancer and your move. And now there’s this crazy virus on top of all of that! I’m glad that you’re reading the Sleep Book and deciding that this is way for you to go. ACT can be tricky to implement though, and if not done right, it won’t work. So please come here with any questions.
Welcome back Tired Dad. For me too, this forum is therapeutic and sort of like a blog. I write about what I’m experiencing, get feedback and hope that what I’m writing helps others as well. Sorry your insomnia is acting up again, but it could be due to all the stress of your sinus problems and now kids at home. I feel for you. My kids are grown so they’re not stuck with me at home. I hope that this virus isn’t impacting your income with you being a musician and bars and restaurants shutting down, because that would only be another source of stress.
About re-reading sections of the book, I always think that’s a good idea. Also, I would take things one night at a time. At least that’s how I’ve always done it. I accept my insomnia to the extent of accepting it as something temporary, like an illness. But on a night to night basis, I accept whatever I sleep I get or don’t get. This helps me relax and then sleep comes naturally.
Mac – how are you doing? Are you able to work from home now like so many other people? I really hope so because then you might be able to lick this insomnia when you don’t have to worry about getting up early.March 19, 2020 at 7:10 am #35990
Hi Deb. Really not doing well to be honest as the pandemic has risen some general anxiety in me and has led to some REALLY bad nights this week. I am in New York which as we all know is the most infected state so there’s a little bit of a panic in the air though I can say today things finally seem to start becoming more “normal” again at work and the initial shock of all this is dying down. So yes I am still at work every single day as my job is considered essential. Zombie most of this week. Not much else to say other than I hope this all passes sooner than later. All restaurants/bars/gyms etc, closed here