- November 11, 2018 at 2:24 pm #23991
hey, guys, i was wondering if any of you have experienced this or something similar. for the past four sundays, my husband has woken up at 4 a.m. to go fishing and this has greatly disturbed my sleep not only on saturday night but on sunday night as well. i was working through some relatively mild health-related anxiety in october and i think that anxiety “attached” itself to my sleeping habits (i had the health issues checked out by my doctor and everything is okay so i’m no longer worried about them, but the weekend sleep anxiety still remains).
i generally sleep pretty well during the week (6-8 hours a night), and i believe that my sleep hygiene is decent – in bed by 10/up by 6, no caffeine after breakfast, moderate-to-vigorous daily exercise, healthy diet with minimal sugar, no daytime naps, cool bedroom temperature (with the odd exception), no electronics or pets in bed, bed for sleep/intimacy only, all devices turned off by 9, relaxing bedtime ritual, etc. i practice this on the weekends, too, so it’s not like i’m staying up til midnight or 1 a.m. and then wondering why i can’t fall asleep. sunday night is tough because i worry that it will be a repeat of saturday night, even though my alarm is set for 6 the next morning (and not 4).
i think it would be easier if he woke up at 6 or even 5; 4 a.m. is just too early to wake up and too late to fall back asleep. we’ve tried sleeping in separate rooms but i still anticipate the early alarm, so i think that’s what needs to be addressed. i should also note that my husband fishes throughout the summer yet his early wake-ups haven’t bothered me until recently (that’s why i think it’s related to last month’s anxiety). is there a way for me to stop worrying on saturday nights and start sleeping again?November 15, 2018 at 10:57 pm #24030
Martin Reed★ Admin
Welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your sleep problems with us. I am not surprised that you worry whenever the weekend is approaching since you know that you will be awoken in the early hours by your husband leaving to go fishing! Is this going to be something he does for the foreseeable future, or will he stop doing this within the next few weeks or couple of months?
I would suggest getting out of bed when unable to sleep on these weekend nights. By doing this, you will be removing yourself from the bed/bedroom when unable to sleep and this will stop you from being in bed worrying about sleep, feeling worried and anxious (which makes sleep more difficult).
It will also train your mind to associate the bed with sleep and not wakefulness. Over time, as you practice this technique, the bed will become a stronger trigger for sleep — and so, although this won’t necessarily stop you from waking in the morning when your husband leaves to go fishing, it will likely help you get more sleep on those weekend nights by reducing sleep-related worry and anxiety.December 3, 2018 at 3:47 pm #25396
thanks for replying, and sorry for the late response. he hasn’t gone fishing since the weekend before thanksgiving, and my saturday nights have been better (5-6 hours of sleep) but there’s still the residual anxiety hanging around on sundays (i can feel it in my stomach all day, and i know this is what’s affecting me at night). this weekend, however, i got 6.5 hours of sleep on BOTH saturday and sunday nights! i feel like dancing, lol. i need to write this down.
getting out of bed only makes me more anxious because i feel like i’m putting pressure on myself to feel sleepy again and the anxiety wakes my brain up too much. i actually do better just lying in bed and focusing on my breathing, or imagining a relaxing place, or thinking about a craft project, or picking a random 7-letter word and seeing how many smaller words i can make from it (my brain needs something to “chew on” in order to relax). i’ve also started practicing mindfulness during the day and i’ve learned from observing my mind that it is generally somewhere in the future (which is normal for most human beings, but can also make you anxious if you latch onto the potentially negative stuff). thanks for the suggestions, though!December 3, 2018 at 11:00 pm #25411
Martin Reed★ Admin
Glad to hear your sleep has been improving — and that you got six-and-a-half hours of sleep on both Saturday and Sunday nights. This should serve as reassurance that you are still capable of sleep!
I appreciate your comments that the idea of getting out of bed during the night can make you feel anxious — however, let me ask you this… how does staying in bed, tossing and turning when unable to sleep feel?
Practicing relaxation techniques when in bed can certainly be helpful — but I would suggest that if they aren’t helping you sleep after a reasonable amount of time (say, roughly half an hour), getting out of bed might be a better strategy because it will ensure that you don’t fall into the tempting trap of ‘trying’ to sleep (which immediately makes sleep more difficult).
It sounds as though you are implementing a number of positive techniques to improve your sleep. Keep up the effort, and I’ve no doubt that your sleep will continue to improve!December 4, 2018 at 8:51 pm #25425
you’re right. there is a lot of elevated bedtime anxiety in my system right now. i realized this morning that the main worry is that i won’t be able to fall back asleep if i’m woken up. that’s it. it’s that simple (but not really, lol). that’s why i had the issue with my husband waking up at 4 to go fishing. now i worry that if he comes to bed later than me and wakes me up then i won’t be able to go back to sleep. so guess what happens – i get in bed at around 10 and then anticipate him coming to bed and waking me up, and then when he does come to bed (usually around 10:30) i’m still awake and it takes me forever to fall asleep. so i DO fall asleep, maybe not when i think i’m supposed to, but it DOES happen. and when i wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, it takes me about 15-20 minutes to fall back asleep again. so i AM able to fall back asleep if woken up, but i’ve taught myself to believe that i can’t do it. i don’t know how to reprogram my brain to not worry about it, though; i guess just keep challenging the false beliefs? i know that’s the “C” part of CBT 🙂 and the “B” part would be to get out of bed, like you said. this morning, i woke up at 4:30, gave myself 30 minutes to fall back asleep (my alarm goes off at 6), and when that didn’t happen i just got up for good (i didn’t think i’d be able to go back to sleep, but you never know). i don’t feel the best, but i also know what it’s like to not sleep at all so i’ll take it.
i’ve also noticed a new perfectionist thought process – if i’m not nodding off before 10, then i get frustrated because i’ve recently trained myself to think that’s how it “should” be. unfortunately, this frustration just adds to the anxiety. i also get frustrated because, before this phase, i was a decently steady sleeper who had no trouble getting in bed and falling asleep before her husband and i can’t figure out why i can’t just go back to the way i was, although i suspect that it’s because of the way i’ve taught myself to think. i’ve been thinking in very black-and-white terms (“if i don’t get 8 hours of sleep last night, then it will be a total failure”) when i should probably be thinking in shades of gray (“4 or 5 or 6 hours of sleep is better than zero, and i’ll be okay today”).
it’s funny – when i was getting more and more frustrated about falling asleep last night (after my husband had come to bed), i started telling myself that if it didn’t happen i could just get up at 2 or 3 and bake christmas cookies and that would be okay since i’ve survived sleepless nights before…and then i fell asleep. it’s like i gave myself permission for the first time. that’s something that’s been lacking since this phase started.
if i have trouble tonight i will get out of bed and do something holiday-related! thanks again for responding.