Forum Replies Created
Hi Deb – about feeling better making dinner – it probably happened with an attitude change, accepting insomnia and feeling less stress as ACT seems to fit my personality more, and then having a bit more energy during the day because I’m conserving at night. Also less body aches. For so long my mind was so tired, I felt so awful knowing I couldn’t make a simple plan and execute it (dinner) without using all of my resources. A month or two ago, whenever I had a good day, I would spend it menu planning for the week and shopping so at least I had something in place, or catch up on cleaning and stuff.
By accepting insomnia I am also talking about it more, having it out in the open makes me feel less anxious. Then I find when I tell someone about it, they usually have their own story about it or they open up and talking about another troubling medical issue they are dealing with and then they probably leave the conversation feeling better also.
Steve – it does feel good to have stress levels down, but at this point, it still does not take much for stress to re-surface. I know its a long process. I hope your anxiety will decrease. Most nights I say a prayer that everyone here will have a steady recovery. The way I think about acceptance is that I am a person living with insomnia now but not forever, vs before I’d say I WAS insomnia living in this woman’s run-down body. I am trying to be hopeful knowing I can create physical changes in my body and brain and maybe even get some superficial treatment at a MedSpa with facial fillers to help with the undereye circles and drooping so I may look a little more refreshed.
Nik – I think you have a realistic approach to healing by thinking that you are in a prolonged recovery state. As Deb has mentioned in the Sleep book there is the client Carlos who doesn’t show improvement in the first two weeks but by 2 months is much better. As with a lot of medical conditions, healing usually takes much longer than expected. I remember with a simple bunion surgery the doctor said I should heal in 3 months, but to actually walk pain-free took 6 months.
I’ve almost finished 3 weeks of ACT, my sleep is still not regular, but at least bedtime is a bit more relaxing and I am usually not dreading the dinner time hour when my mind used to be so tired and it was such an effort to plan and cook a meal. Most days I now I don’t stress about it. In July I averaged 4.1 hours sleep per night, in August 4.3 so far but with less than half the Ambien usage. Slow but measurable progress. Knowing now it takes the amygdala 8 weeks to heal and shrink with mindfulness practice, I think a 2-month healing process is reasonable for me.
How did you change your diet? Are you gluten free?
Deb and Borgesbi – thanks for posting about your meltdowns. Many years ago I went to urgent care for panic attacks and insomnia during a very stressful time with our business and at the same time had a family member with seizures and surgery going on. About a year ago went to urgent care for Ambien due to an insomnia reaction from a steroid and again having a family member experience a major medical event at the same time of steroid. Both situations were resolved fairly quickly, the first in 3 weeks and the second in 3 days.
However since my insomnia started last March, never had I experienced this kind of physical and emotional meltdown from chronic insomnia. I had several moments when I almost committed myself to a 5150 mental health hold. About the only thing that saved me was finding some mindfulness mediations and listening on the internet. So since Deb mentioned the amygdala in the brain in some posts I googled amygdala and mindfulness since ACT wants you to practice mindfulness.
As many of you already know the amygdala is the fight or flight center of the brain, seat of fearful and anxious emotions. Long term and ongoing stress can make the amygdala larger and more sensitive and this can last long after the stressors are over. There are some studies I’ve read online that state daily mindfulness practice can shrink the amygdala over a period of 8 weeks. The only problem with these articles is that I couldn’t find an exact amount of time the daily practice should be, one study said 27 minutes a day, another said just 5 minutes a day was needed. I’m always curious about the physiology of my body, so for me knowing this practice can actually make physical changes makes me want to be consistent with it. I hope this is helpful for others.
And to be extra encouraging to others reading this and doing ACT, today is the longest time period since March 12th, where I have not taken an Ambien. Today is 9 days Ambien free! I reduced Ambien usage a lot since the beginning of July, and am so happy that the anxiety is becoming less so I don’t think about pills so much anymore. My sleep is still far from perfect, but I’m slowly feeling better.
Natasha – some thoughts on wind-down routine as I’ve struggled with this too. It seems that if I do the same thing too often it becomes ineffective. Some nights I take a warm shower, my doctor said that as your body temperature cools down after a warm shower or bath at night it stimulates the melatonin production. I’d do that within an hour before going to bed, but I just do it once in a while because it feels good and prior to starting ACT, I would get lots of body aches from insomnia, it was soothing for the aches. For a while coloring was fun, but then it became like a chore, and now and then I listen to an audiobook on Amazon. I’ve also just traced and sketched my hand on a piece of paper when my mind was too tired to read or think. My whole life since I was about 7 years old, my wind-down was reading in bed for about 20 minutes. I’m trying to add this in again, as ACT allows this (CBT did not) and I really want to get back to establishing my normal life again. I read on a Kindle on a low light setting, and researched that if you read less than an hour the backlight should not bother you. Also if you don’t like to read, maybe just flip through a mail-order catalog. I know you want to do things in the dark, but I’ve done all these things with a very dim light which hopefully won’t be too stimulating for you. I have an eye issue and my doctor does not want me to watch TV in the dark.
For mindfulness exercises, I try and do what the book recommends, 3x day for 3 minutes sitting and focusing on breathing. If my mind just won’t focus I use guided meditations on YouTube. I like the Mindful Movement videos and I also like to practice one from Roy Masters, you sit in a chair and focus on your hand/fingers. As the book mentions, with this practice stuff may come up unrelated to sleep, so I’m dealing with a personal issue today, but in a healthy way.
Just remember healing seems to be a slow process. Last night I had a very strange experience and was feeling discouraged. I looked through my sleep diary from July 1st-17th and I took Ambien 6x, in August only used Ambien 2x, so that is good progress for me.
Steve – I am going to bed between 9:30-10pm, depending on how tired I feel, thinking I will wake up at 5am, but this week when I do actually sleep, been sleeping through to 6-6:15am. So last night I went to bed at 10pm, but couldn’t sleep until about 12:30am. Still, it is so nice just to relax in bed rather than doing SC and have anxiety about getting in and out of bed and straining my eyes trying to read until sleepy.
Hi everyone, just posting my recent weird sleep patterns since starting ACT 8/1. The last 5 days have been extremes.
Sunday – no sleep
Monday – 8 1/4 hours sleep
Tues – no sleep
Wed – 8 1/4 hours
Thurs – trouble with sleep onset, maybe lite sleep 12:30am-1:30am. Wide awake then with panic because it seems that when I have great sleep one night, the next night I feel I have so much energy I cannot sleep. Took about an hour to reset myself, did some breathing exercises, acknowledged my anxiety and pounding heart, and grounded myself to sound of breath and feel of sheets. Then I fell into a deep sleep from about 2:30am -6:15am. My husband usually wakes up about 5am and I am not noticing him at all (I do have to wear earplugs) but in the past, he’d wake me up. About 4 3/4 hours overall.
This week is the first time since last March I have slept 8 hours. There were nights before where I would not sleep but the next night I would sleep 6-7 hours, not 8. I am also noticing that my body is less achy, no Advil for almost a week. Yesterday I felt so good I decided to visit my mother in law, she’s 94 years old and help her with paying bills and some organization. She lives an hour away and I needed to drive over one of the most challenging and dangerous stretches of highway in CA. It was the first time since my insomnia began I felt comfortable driving so far. So I hope my brain is beginning to heal as some nights I am able to sleep longer and deeper, naturally.
Steve – glad you are feeling better today, I had a similar night myself. Like you I sometimes I feel that just getting up, going to the bathroom and getting a cup of water is helpful. It kind of resets things, and if I sit on the side of the bed for a moment, I might start yawning and realize I am still pretty sleepy. In the book it says “normal” sleepers do get up for this. I had that weird light sleep going on between 10pm and 11:30pm, didn’t feel like I was sleeping, but as I was feeling like I was waking more, there came a memory from the back of my mind from this forum saying “you are having light sleep” so I relaxed a bit. Then I had that “pill thought” and again I remembered Deb saying your mind needs to learn how to sleep naturally (and if it doesn’t tonight then just accept what comes). So then I must have slept very soundly from 12:30am-6am, didn’t even hear my husband’s alarm at 5am. I am so happy I slept well last night as it is my twins’ birthday today and I feel rested and can enjoy the day with them!
Steve, Deb and burn – thanks for your thoughts and support. I was looking at my sleep journal from back in May and June and I was feeling much worse, sleeping a bit less and definitely using more Ambien. I have improved greatly as far as medication usage and energy level. Going 5-7 days between pills is so much better than before, but there is certainly room for improvement, like taking zero! The people who know me would say I’m a very patient person, but today I felt like I really lost it so thanks again for responding back! Got to trust the process.
Deb – After so many months you must be so relieved to feel and look refreshed! I hope your brain continues to stay relaxed and that you become a “normal”.
Steve – Today is my 5 month anniversary of insomnia and still not doing as well as hoped for at this point. But reading through Deb’s posts is seems she had insomnia 9 months, and Max wrote about his insomnia which seemed to last 7-8 months. I know this will not change overnight. Last night like you, was a bad night for me. No sleep. The thing is I did not feel much anxiety at all, only a couple times. Mostly just resting and letting my mind drift for a few seconds to something neutral. I did get up twice just to sit in the dark for a few moments and when I did, yawned a lot. I started trying to implement ACT 8/1 and so far had 3 nights sleeping six hours, 2 nights no sleep, 2 nights using Ambien, and the other nights slept for 2-5 hours. Nothing really consistent so far. I might try shortening my sleep window a bit, we’ll see.
Hi Steve – You sound so optimistic this morning. Since you started using ACT how long have you slept on average per night? Over the last 5 nights, I’m averaging 4 hours of sleep per night. I know that doesn’t sound good, but like you I’m starting the day feeling better and although I sometimes feel tired during the day, I am not feeling sick and tired, I can mostly enjoy where I am. Last night was not so good I only slept about 2 hours – I was uncomfortable, hot and sweaty, lots of thoughts and I didn’t do my wind-down routine, I was a bit impatient and really wanted to do the behavior I did prior to insomnia.
Like you, I am looking forward to going to sleep tonight, having the feeling of curiosity rather than dread, and I will do my quiet time routine. Hope your energy stays good as the day progresses.
Before insomnia I was fairly normal sleeping between 7-8 hours/night so that is still my goal for staying in bed. Last night I went to bed about 9:45pm and probably fell asleep 30min later. If I can, I like to stay in bed, even if wide awake until 6am. I have pets and I don’t want them to get into the habit of wanting to eat or go outside earlier than that. Once I’m up, they expect their morning routine, which includes walking two very large cats with my dog. The cats think they are dogs, if I walk too early then there might be coyotes outside (which is kind of crazy since I live in a mix of urban/suburban). So that brings up gsd. GSD=German Shepherd Dog. A large, 90lb female, black and red, my constant companion. Still undecided on the job, its a decent paying govt job, they interview the people who score top 10 on their assessment, but since its govt, a very slow process so I’ll have a couple weeks to consider it, and then of course I might not get chosen.
Hi Steve -thanks for reminding me about the clock watching, even my doctor told me it was OK to watch the clock as long as I didn’t have a negative reaction to it. I don’t have a negative reaction, it was more just my attempt to follow rules and try to control insomnia. Sorry you had a disturbing night and hope tonight is better. Has your dizziness and eye strain improved by just resting in bed? I have dry eye and put gel in my eyes before bed, and taking fish oils have helped.
I had a better sleep last night, almost 6 hours, woke up at 3:45am and just stayed in bed until 6am. I might have had moments of light sleep during that time, but I’m finding just resting to be so helpful. My energy has been so good during the day even when getting only 3 hours of sleep. Yesterday I started to have a panic attack during the day, not from sleep issues but from being unemployed. I have not worked for 2 1/2 years, had to close down and sell a business due to husband’s health. For almost 27 years had to be on call 24/7 with very few vacations and feel weird not working. When the panic came, I recognized it and this time practiced accepting it, welcoming it and thanking it. It passed quickly, and then I got an email for a job interview, but it requires shift work, not the best for insomnia. I have also been practicing the exercises for mindfulness. If I forget to do them at home, then if I’m out in the car, when I get to my destination I will sit in the car for 3 minutes and focus on the breath. I’ll probably need another week of this to see if my sleep is the same or better than doing SC. I have a lot of external stressors unrelated to sleep that have probably prolonged healing from insomnia. I have tinnitus which can be annoying at night and I get songs in my head at bedtime. All week, Bring Me To Life by Evanescence has been in my head, I guess I should welcome it and thank it rather than following along.
Deb – Yes, I took the ambien because of lack of sleep the previous night, and took about 11pm as I don’t want to feel groggy in the morning. I have taken it as late as 1am though. My insomnia is usually onset, but seems to have developed into sleep maintenance, so both ends. Since my spouse’s alarm usually wakes me at 5am, I attempt to go to bed between 9pm-10pm, depending on my degree of sleepiness. My insomnia started the middle of March 2019, due to two medications. One was short acting and I knew it would give me temporary insomnia for a couple days, the other was very long acting and had no idea of the insomnia side effect, so ended up taking it for almost 3 weeks. Since March the longest time I’ve had without Ambien is 8 days, that was fairly recent, hoping to stretch it out longer. After reading the Sleep book, I realize how in the past I was really trying to control the insomnia. I’m trying to let it go now. It also helps telling other people about, some friends and neighbors, so I don’t feel ashamed or hiding it, its easier to let go.
Deb – this is my sleep the last 5 nights:
1. estimate 6 hours, not watching clock, 2. no sleep, 3. no sleep by 11pm so decided to take Ambien, 4. fragmented and light sleep – actually fell asleep on my daughter’s little love seat within 5 minutes of doing a body scan with the lights on. That was light sleep for 45 minutes. Went into my own bed, then couldn’t sleep until 3am, got woke up at 5am and then maybe had 30 minutes light sleep 5:45-6:15am. 5. Slept maybe 2.5-3hours maybe 1am-4am? trying not to watch clock.