Early weeks of SR, mental support needed!

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by alax 3 days, 11 hours ago.

Viewing 6 posts - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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  • #51236

    Julymorning
    ✘ Not a client

    Hello everyone,

    My insomnia is somewhat new, almost 2 months old but I began to struggle almost immediately – I built a fear towards going to bed, a hate staying in my bed and developed an everyday anxiety about sleep.

    I’m 37, and used to be a very good sleeper overall without any issues, I do not take any pills and have not taken any.

    Recently, I completed Martin’s two-week online course while implementing CBTi technics – SR, SC (the cognitive part seems to be the hardest one for me but i’m trying hard).

    The first week of SR was devastating – I was “dead” during the day crying, pessimistic and depressive overall. I saw no joy in engaging in any activities with my 3 kids which I love so much! I pretended to be happy to not make my loved ones sad. I felt so jealous seeing other people smiling because I was an unhappiest person in the world! I thought I gave up living. All I could do, is barely function – drive my kids if that was not too far, go to nearby grocery store and cook, staying indoors most of the time because spring in Seattle just sucks.
    My husband was very supportive all the time, but it couldn’t help much despite he is very rational and was telling me from his perspective that my problem “is in my head” and I need to “let go” everything about sleep (which is obviously the hardest thing to do!). I wrote Martin about my SR worries and he reassured that worsening of sleep in the first weeks is not uncommon as our brain is adapting to something new (a significant relief!).
    At that time my SW was about 7 – 7:30 hours, I started falling asleep relatively quickly (within 15 minutes) and getting around 5 hours of broken sleep on average (ranging from 2-3 hours to 5-6hours), my sleep efficiency was around 68%. Because I was still waking up during night I decided that I had to make my SW shorter (I have never experienced a broken sleep before).
    At this time my relationship with my bed was somewhere between hating and loving, I was surprised how fast I built a hate towards it. During my first week of SR I had a paradoxical anxiety – feeling terribly anxious about sleep after a good night and not caring much after a horrible night, or feeling horribly anxious during the day and sleeping relatively well afterwards and being calm the whole day and having a horrible night afterwords. Doesn’t make sense!
    By the end of the first week of SR I felt completely exhausted and fed up with insomnia, kind of tragically accepting my miserable new reality. This is exactly when I stopped being anxious about what tomorrow brings as I knew already that I wouldn’t die, I would be able to drive my kids to school, would be able to go to grocery store and maybe would be able to sleep. I also continued to exercise every day doing cardio for 30mins, and was surprised that lack of sleep had no influence on my strength, I was rather feeling lazy doing it or feeling I should conserve some power and limit my cardio to 20 minutes instead.
    There were days after just 3 hours of sleep when I felt very energetic and super tired after having slept say 5 hours. I think it is due to hyper arousal that kicks in due to a lot of everyday worry.

    After first week of SR the “what-if tomorrow…” anxious thought has been replaced with “what-if CBTi won’t work on me?”, because obviously I found out I can function with any sleep next day and my initial worry is no longer relevant but I want my life back so much, when I would go to bed with my husband at the same time doing whatever I loved to do while spending hours laying there with my phone or laptop, not caring about sleep at all and SLEEPING.

    After shortening my SW from 7-7:30 to 6-6:30 hours in my second week, I suddenly started feeling sleepy which never was the case even before my insomnia started. Sometimes I could hardly stay awake until my window opened, the other times a felt less sleepy but would still stick to my SW and fall asleep right away. My sleep suddenly started to improve where I could sometimes sleep for full 6 hours once my head hit the pillow, leaving no chance to twitches, jerks and jolts to bother anymore (which I had plethora of when I was trying to fall sleep). I averaged to 5,5 hours with 85.5% of SE.
    But even after I started sleeping relatively OK, anxiety kept getting in my way – every time I slept well the next morning started with a worry that was getting worse every day. Anxiety was getting so strong at a moment that I was pretty sure one day it would ruin my success completely. I couldn’t identify my worry thoughts, they were subconscious. I suspect that my worry was still about the same thoughts “what if it’s my last good night? and what if CBTi is not working on me?”.
    My second week of SR definitely felt encouraging. At times I would stop thinking about sleep during the day, telling myself that my daily activities were more important then a bad night, felt calmer towards evening joyfully getting ready for all the night activities I had prepared and finally I realized I I had no control over sleep so why should I worry about it at all? Then I would sleep my 6 hours again, waking up in the morning (for some reason unhappy) and starting feeling anxious just after waking up. This is the time when I kind of stopped trusting my bed a little again, kind of worrying.

    My third week of SR (I count it as a second week because it has been only 10 days since I implemented adequate SW) started with 5 hours of completely broken sleep and then 3 hours of sleep two days in a row with inability to fall asleep quickly again. I still wake up at the same time every morning no matter what, but I sometimes go to bed 15mins earlier before my SW as I sometimes find it very irritating to stay awake longer when you barely can.

    I know I should expect set backs, but the thought of “what if CBTi is not working” just brings me down. I’m very determined to keep pushing and not giving up, I’m ready to struggle more if needed but I’m sometimes losing hope.

    ** Does anybody who went through this recognizes himself along these lines?
    ** Was CBTi successful?

    I read sometimes people saying that CBTi didn’t work but I don’t see where exactly the technique has failed for them.
    I know, that I shouldn’t jump to any conclusions, it’s too early, and that I should be staying positive and having a different approach, trusting and believing, and I do, when the things go well…

    Any support would be greatly appreciated.

    Julia

    #51240

    Scott
    Mentor

    Julia,

    I believe what you describe is about textbook for most people who are experiencing insomnia and are implementing CBT-I techniques. It’s not uncommon and can be very discouraging when setbacks occur, but it’s part of the process as your brain shifts its beliefs and association with sleeping in your bed again. I believe that the only way for CBT-I not to work would be if that person doesn’t consistently implement the methods or completely abandons them. I, too, experienced many of the same thoughts and behaviors (~3 yrs ago) you’re currently having but since implementing CBT-I, I’ve been able to restore my sleep to pre-insomnia days. There are sporadic days, especially when I travel, when I experience an occasional restless and difficult night, but I know I can carry on the following day without detriment to my daily life or have anxious thoughts about my poor night of sleep.

    Hope that helps!
    Scott J

    The content of this post is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, disorder, or medical condition. It should never replace any advice given to you by your physician or any other licensed healthcare provider. Insomnia Coach LLC offers coaching services only and does not provide therapy, counseling, medical advice, or medical treatment. All content is provided “as is” and without warranties, either express or implied.
    #51245

    Julymorning
    ✘ Not a client

    Thank you so much for encouragement, Scott! This is so important to hear!

    I know that mostly anxiety is ruining the flow of the process. I know that thoughts are just thoughts, we shouldn’t engage with them but just acknowledge their presence and shift our attention to what we are busy with in the present moment.

    But what about subconscious anxiety that wakes up with me in the morning? It’s that knot in my stomach or a lump in a throat that accompanies me during the day. I know these feelings do not harm us, but they do awaken arousal which later on masks sleepiness cues making sometimes a progress subjective (because if there is progress, there is better mood, less worry etc. and vice versa).

    While I can address the unhelpful thoughts, I can’t really do much about subconscious anxiety – it just appears on its own! I started trying mindfulness, I also do PMR as well as meditation, but they are not always helpful.

    In your opinion/experience – will subconscious anxiety lessen with time and progress of CBTi or there is no cure to my anxious brain? (I know that pills don’t always work either). I try to distract myself but quite often end up thinking of sleep again.

    P.S I used to go camping in our travel trailer all the time. Luckily Washington gives this opportunity all year round, but I started to avoid camping recently since there is not much space I can move to when doing SC without waking up everybody around me. Camping used to be a breath to me and a huge unwinding :(.

    Thank you, again, for all your support!
    Julia

    #51267

    Scott
    Mentor

    Julia,

    We have much less control over when our thoughts arrive and what our thoughts are than we think we do but we can control how we manage, interact and respond to them. You can’t prevent thoughts from arriving but just because they appear doesn’t mean we have to give them attention. And remember, thoughts are only harmful when we start to believe in them!
    If the thought, “I won’t sleep again tonight” generates arousal but “I’m a 3-legged giraffe” doesn’t, it’s because you’re taking the first thought too serious. A better method of managing the negative thought that arrives is to thank your mind for bringing it to your attention. When you have that insomnia related thought make an appearance, just tell your mind, “Thanks for sharing!” and return to doing your activity. Chances are – it’ll revisit just like a bully does on the playground but be consistent in your relationship and, over time, you’ll become less and less aroused when the thought appears. Believe it or not, I still experience some of the same thoughts I did when I was battling insomnia but I’ve learned how to manage those thoughts so they aren’t harmful to me now and doesn’t interrupt my sleep. This is a practice that takes time though but I believe if you remain consistent in your approach, you’ll find some success with it.

    Scott J

    The content of this post is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, disorder, or medical condition. It should never replace any advice given to you by your physician or any other licensed healthcare provider. Insomnia Coach LLC offers coaching services only and does not provide therapy, counseling, medical advice, or medical treatment. All content is provided “as is” and without warranties, either express or implied.
    #51476

    Julymorning
    ✘ Not a client

    Thank you, Scott!

    #53623

    alax
    ✘ Not a client

    Hi Julia, nice to see another Puget Sounder here! This spring has indeed been a doozy. I know this post is dated and this all is hopefully behind you, but I’d like to chime in.

    What you described is sooo similar to what I’m going through. I’m entering week 7 of CBT-I and I have also been all over the place. My sleep window has only moved 30 minutes since I started since I haven’t made consistent progress, 10.45-5:15. My first 2 weeks went great, but I think that was mostly a contrast between the 2-3 hours of fragmented sleep I was getting before and 5 hours of good sleep. I’m the disciplined sort so I plan on sticking with the plan even though it looks like it will be a long haul and kinda sucks that my “8 week cure” expectation is not being met despite me being 100% on plan. Like you, I just want to stop caring about sleep and get along with life. I’m afraid to read to my kids in bed

    I no longer hate or fear my bed, but don’t feel like it’s a welcoming place yet. I also get that anxiety creep, but it’s not as debilitating as it once was. I’ll share what has helped me, if anything, cope with the situation and not get depressed by it:

    Focus on positives of insomnia (weird, right?)
    – I basically stopped alcohol, from 5-8 drinks a week to maybe 1 every 2 weeks and never at night (unless it’s date night)! I also dropped my afternoon coffee.
    – I now know that quality matters more than quantity. There are nights where I get 5 hours and I feel great the next day. Did we think that was possible before insomnia? Probably not. So while I’m definitely sleep deprived, I stress about the hours less, although still stress a little when I get <4.
    – While I exercised daily for years, I ramped it up a bit and am oddly in even better physical shape than before. Doesn’t help me sleep any better, but it’s been fun!
    – I’m a morning person so shifting my wakeup from 6:15 to 5AM was actually nice. I take my dog for a long walk to Snoqualmie Falls every morning when it’s completely deserted and have time to listen to podcasts.

    Anyway, I would love to hear about your progress today since I’ve also been a little worried about my slower than expected progress. Thank you!

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