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- August 26, 2019 at 5:18 am #31597
wsh✘ Not a client
So sorry for everyone here that is still struggling with insomnia. What a beast! I thought I would do a quick post on my recovery. If it helps even one person a little bit, I would be pleased.
I had insomnia for 5 months from March to July this year. I am into my 5th week now of averaging 7.5 hours sleep per night (I am 57), so I am pretty confident that I am well on my way to recovery. I have not had a bad night of sleep for at least 6 weeks.
What worked for me:
1. A sleep restriction program, similar to Martin’s. This for me was equivalent to torture, going to bed after midnight, yo-yoing in and out of bed 6-7 times each night, and getting out of bed at 5 AM. With very little sleep sometimes to show for it. Despite my scepticism about this approach, it definitely worked.
2. ACT. Learning to accept insomnia. Realising that you can cope OK next day after all. Being VERY gentle and kind to oneself, especially during the rough times. Not seeing oneself as a failure for not being able to sleep.
3. Counselling. Talking to a therapist about what is really at the root of one’s anxiety. I have been doing this for 12 months now.
5. Sleeping solo (in a remote bedroom), and in a very cold room. I am talking 2-5 deg C cold. Now I use warm blankets of course, but my head seems to like being cold.
6. Time and patience. Time heals all wounds. I think with anxiety (and I had terrible sleep onset anxiety) our minds eventually just get bored with the anxious thought after you have replayed it to yourself about a billion times.
7. Having a very understanding and compassionate family member or friend to talk to. In my case I was very emotional over this period, as it felt like the end of the world. Having a deeply understanding and caring wife really helped get me through.
8. Being very flexible with work. Luckily for me on the worst nights I was able to take a lot of time off over this period, so I had one less thing (work pressure) to stress about most of the time.
9. Religion. I have resumed going to church again and am finding a pretty deep spiritual connection and faith there, amid a very kind and caring but small congregation. This correlated almost exactly with the beginning of my improved sleep. I realise this isn’t going to be for everyone of course. My decision to go to my local Uniting Church came after one morning (after 2 nights of zero sleep, and feeling my life was imploding) I had some nice folks from the 7th day adventists knock on my door. I was discussing my insomnia with them. The kindly lady was very understanding gently explaining how God cared for me. I broke down in tears.
What didn’t work for me:
1. Medication. Tried valium out of desperation on the worst nights. What a shit drug. 3 nights later I had the worst most anxious nights ever. Tried Gabapentin. Did very little other than make me feel like a drunken zombie during the day, but withdrawing from it 2 months later was sheer hell on earth. Another horrid drug. Next time a doctor suggests medication, I am out the door straight away. Or ask them if they have ever been on it and tried to withdraw (probably not).
2. Over-doing the pre-sleep rituals. There are so many rituals people swear by. Worry logs, relaxation exercises, hot baths, herbal teas, no alcohol at all, yada yada yada. I got to the point where I was starting these rituals about 4 hours before bed. Eventually I dropped them all because it made me un-relaxed just to miss one ritual. Also how can you have a social life with all this stuff? After I dropped them it didn’t seem to matter.
3. Sleep clinics. Expensive waste of time. If you haven’t got sleep apnea, don’t bother. A night at a sleep clinic is a (not funny) joke. How anyone can sleep with their heads wired up like Frankenstein?
Once again, best wishes to all on your voyage to recoveryAugust 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm #31601
Bluesky✘ Not a client
There is hope then.
9 months of complete hell.
Nothing really seems to work.August 26, 2019 at 3:29 pm #31604
gsdmom✘ Not a client
wsh – thanks for posting about your experience, and it must be such a relief to finally feel rested again! One thing I didn’t expect when I first realized I had chronic insomnia was the time and patience it takes to heal. Learning about ACT is helping so much, into my 4th week of it. My insomnia started the middle of March, brought on from medication. I agree with all of the strategies that helped you overcome insomnia, just trying one thing will probably not lead to success, you really need to treat the whole person: the physical body, spiritual and emotional/psychological aspects too. And yes, too many pre-sleep rituals end up bringing on more anxiety instead of relaxation.
You are so lucky you have a supportive spouse and employer. My home situation is not supportive and so finding a caring and kind church group was helpful. I am very spiritual but was alone in that journey, having people who love you enough to pray over you will bring you to tears, and eventually tears of joy. I hope you have many more peaceful and restful nights.August 26, 2019 at 5:33 pm #31613
Thank you for sharing, Wsh. I’m sure it will give a lot of people hope. I have also recovered, having had 3 weeks of no bad nights. I used SR/SC and later switched to ACT completely. Some of the things you mentioned also helped with my recovery – a very supportive and loving spouse, a part-time home business with flexibility – I didn’t have to get up early and could sleep in whenever I needed to, time and patience, and I would also add, never giving up, no matter how many times I felt defeated, pulling myself up and trying again and again. Spirituality also helped me – When practicing ACT it was easier for me to let go of the struggle and accept whatever happens because there had been so many other times in my life that I had surrendered a difficult situation to God and then saw things get better.August 26, 2019 at 11:08 pm #31614
wsh✘ Not a client
Thanks for all of your kind responses. The most difficult thing with insomnia is that it is so debilitating that we all desperately want to “fix” it. So we madly try “solutions” here there and everywhere, disrupting our inner calm. Of course, the irony is that the harder we try to fix it, the more problematic it becomes. When we are children, generally sleep just comes without us even thinking about it. I think that taking steps in adult life to recover some of that wonder of being a child helps a lot with sleep.
Bluesky – My little suggestion , is to buy a journal try for a while and write down 3 nice things that happened to you each day, and that you were grateful for. For example, it might just be that someone smiled nicely to you on the bus (regardless of whether or not you were sleep deprived). It helped me to start reclaiming some of the joy and wonder in everyday life. Somehow if you write down good things that happened to you in your day – particularly after night(s) of bad sleep, the insomnia starts to lose its grip a bit.August 29, 2019 at 12:19 am #31668
Mac0908✘ Not a client
Your post is the truth and is what it’s all about. Thank you for sharing what I would probably write one day.September 6, 2019 at 1:11 am #32282
Martin Reed★ Admin
Hello wsh and thank you so much for sharing your insomnia success story! So many people stop posting when their sleep recovers — and this means that the community here misses out on seeing that recovery is absolutely possible! I am sure your post will help many people and provide reassurance (and motivation) to others who are currently struggling.