Forum Replies Created
Mac – Sorry you had such a frustrating night! I know it is recommended in general to avoid watching screens about an hour before bed, but on the other hand you probably want to return to acting like a “normal” sleeper. Is there anything about your job that is causing hidden anxiety other than waking early? I had sleep issues about 12 years ago when I was studying and being an intern in the medical profession. The nights before I had to go to a clinic or hospital I had insomnia. I know it was normal to feel anxiety, and other students occasionally had insomnia or panic attacks. I felt unprepared and abandoned and unsupported in this environment. I also had resentment towards my instructor. The days we were supposed to do hands-on care with patients, my instructor seemed like she was hiding in an empty room planning her daughter’s wedding, instead of working one on one with us. And it was clear that some medical staff really resented having a student follow them for a day and so I learned very little. About 20% of the time, I was lucky to have a mentor that loved to teach and share knowledge and it was a great day, but I never knew when that would happen so the unknowing of how my day would go created anxiety. My expectations of my learning experience were much higher than the reality of what was actually happening. I was in constant conflict of whether to quit the program or tough it out thinking it would get better (it didn’t). I know this is a long story, but wondering if there are some deeper issues with your job, you could identify them, then work them out or just at least acknowledge and accept them? I wish I was able to have better insight during that time, and then I might have handled it better and slept better.
Hi Steve – as far as wake ups go – yes I do have them. I’ve read the typical sleep cycle lasts 90-120 minutes and I feel like when I do wake its the transition from the REM dreaming stage back into the first light sleep stage. If I can sleep 7-8 hours, I might wake about 3 times. Right now my biggest challenge seems to be getting into that deep sleep (stage 3) in the beginning of the night, as if I’m just lingering in stage 1 and/or 2, then I become wide awake and have a difficult time settling down again. Like last night, I finally settled into a good sleep between 2:30am-5:30am. I only work half a day today, so I think I will get through it OK. As far as the cats and dog go, in the future if I ever get new pets, I will take your suggestion and keep the bedroom door closed from the time they come home with me, so that will be their normal.
Thanks for your support and kind words. Regarding my job, last week we were shut down Friday and thought there would be a couple week break due to state and governor’s orders regarding coronavirus. Then Sunday, got a call to show up for work on Monday. No customer contact, we are staggered at our desks at work and now limit the number of staff in the office. So far, at least for this week I am working full time, the good news is that the latest I am working is 6pm instead of 9-9:30pm.
Back to my sleep – 3rd night in a row no Ambien, hope this keeps up. 1st night I couldn’t settle and listened to a guided sleep meditation about 12am. They don’t make me sleep but at least get into a relaxed, accepting state. Slept form 2am-7am. 2nd night the same thing, but slept from 1am-7am, and last night was able to fall asleep on my own after about an hour, maybe 11pm. Probably would have slept a good 8 hours, but I have a large Siamese cat, about 15lbs that insisted he get cuddled and massaged 3x last night, He has that Siamese howl and will take his paw and tap my face persistently until I do so. It doesn’t happen that often, I think I probably got at least 6 hours of sleep. Extended light sleep stages still an issue, and I’m wishing there was more medical literature on how long the nervous system and brain takes to heal from this.
Hi Deb – sounds like you are catching up on some sleep and I hope you feel better soon.
Steve and Mac – Although working from home sounds great, it is new and a different adjustment and probably subconsciously bringing on a different kind of stress. Especially for you, Mac having to log in at 7:30am.
Last Sunday morning I was feeling great, just getting into thinking I would be able to relax for a couple weeks due to not working and maybe catch up on sleep. But then at noon, the announcement came that we would be open again on Monday (but not to the public) but would return to our offices and learn how to work remotely with clients. Uncertain workdays, adjusting to learning different computer processes and procedures were just enough to start terrible sleep onset issues. Took ambien again, the last 2 nights, it makes me feel like a failure, but I know I should not be so hard on myself. I”m having difficulty just letting my mind drift off. The next two days I’m working at an office that’s only 1 1/4 miles from my home, so if the weather’s nice I’ll walk to and from work, and practice some mindfulness while walking, that will feel good. Hoping we all adjust soon and reduce our anxieties.
Yeah for the sleep drive working. The night before slept about 3.5 hours, then yesterday I made a point of getting lots of fresh air and exercise, listened to guided meditation and at night finally slept for 8.5 hours. Today I’m officially laid off for almost 2 weeks so it will be interesting to see if the stress reduction from work will help with insomnia.
Deb – yes, my husband is very inconsiderate, and has contributed to extending my insomnia. Since you are a marriage counselor and understand personality disorders and such, I would describe him as a malignant narcissist. Statistically, his life expectancy is very short due to health reasons, so that helps me cope.
Mac – there have been days when I’ve felt dizzy like that too, and even more scary is the brain fog, as forgetting people’s names and words in the middle of a conversation. I wonder if you stay in the light sleep stage for an extended time? Insomnia definitely has affected memory, word recall, and mental math calculations. I know living in the NYC area can also be especially stressful and competitive even without the coronavirus. I used to live nearby and spent some time in the summers with my grandma on E. 72nd St. Hoping you can relax and get restored at home this coming week.
Hi Steve – I am doing seasonal work as a tax preparer. Last night our schedules were being changed to close earlier at night, and now that all of CA has the stay in place order, our offices are closed for today. I spent much of yesterday reviewing the procedures for preparing tax returns online, although I’d still have to go to work to access the computer to do so. The govt still can’t decide if they are extending the tax filing deadline, there is a tax payment deadline.
Glad you were able to get a few solid nights of sleep in a row. Last night I skipped the Ambien and finally got about 3.5 hrs of sleep. Might of got some more sleep, but my spouse made some really stinky food about 1am and I had to get up and open the windows and couldn’t deep sleep until about 4am. I listened to some soothing guided mindfulness meditations so I stayed calm, then had some fascinating dreams. But after nights like last night, my sleep drive is usually great enough where I can fall asleep quickly tonight.
Sorry you and Mac are missing the gym. I do my exercise outdoors due to our milder climate. With the Stay in Place orders, you are allowed to go outside for exercise, so yesterday I took my dog for a hike on our usual trails where I seldom encounter anyone, However yesterday with many people not working I had to make room for 10 mountain bikers on the trails. I know, its not the worst complaint at the moment. Hope everyone here stays safe and healthy!
Mac and Taylor – my sleep also seems to be impacted by the effects of coronavirus. Taylor I also live in the Bay area in a county with the Stay in Place order. My job is considered essenstial so I am still working and that’s where the stressors coming from. Our staff has dwindled so the job demands are higher and my hours keep changing and working more into the night, not really late but 9-9:30pm. The pressure to be a team player and keep things going is just enough to upset my fragile nervous system. Four nights in a row now taking Ambien so I can sleep about 6 hours. Just prior to this I thought I might be on the edge of recovery having a month of many nights falling asleep quickly and averaging 6-7 hours sleep per night with minimal Ambien. The last couple nights I’ve listened to some guided meditations, they relax me and slow me down somewhat, but sleep is no where to be found. I’ll make myself slow down today and practice mindfulness and tonight if I can’t sleep, I’ll just accept it and not sleep as I have a day off tomorrow and if I end up being a zombie I can just stay home. I don’t want to take Ambien for 5 nights in a row.
And Deb like you, even when I thought I might be recovering, I still had many nights of light sleep. I’d go to bed about 10:30-11pm, then suddenly notice the clock at 1am, thinking I had been awake that whole time. Some nights not being able to fall back to sleep until 2am.
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.
Mac – About your work, I agree with you that it probably contributes a lot to insomnia. Maybe before your insomnia, you were aware of work stress and could cope with it. But now that your brain is stressed and hyper-aroused from having chronic insomnia, looking at screens all day, and having the daily stressors of interacting with new people, its difficult for your mind to settle down on an unconscious level, even if intellectually you feel you have low anxiety.
This is how it is for me. I know if I didn’t have to work I’d have a much better recovery. Last week I started to do well, 7 nights of falling asleep quickly and sleeping for 6-7 hours. Starting to do more long distance walking and exercise. Then two bad days of work put me over the edge. Saturday I was suppose to work from 9am-2pm, then a lot of people called in sick and ended up working until 6:45pm, with no lunch, yesterday same thing, supposed to work 10-2, agreed to see one more client at 2:30 that was supposed to be simple, but ended up being difficult and stayed until 5:30, again skipped lunch as I thought I would have it at home a lot earlier. No exercise and late meals really threw me off and ended up taking Ambien at 2am to sleep at least 4 hours, since I have to work until 9pm tonight. I realize now as much as I’d like to be super helpful and go beyond my work expectations, this is not possible at this moment in time. I will stick to my assigned schedule and learn to say ‘”no”.
Mac – if you have any extra $$, you might try getting a consultation at a MedSpa, maybe there are some non-invasive facial treatments that might help with under eye circles and bags. I feel like I really got droopy over the last year and in a few weeks will experiment with injectable fillers in my cheeks. Also have you ever considered getting a sleep study done? I had one last July, and the results showed I definitely stayed in the light sleep stage longer than normal, and even though there is nothing to cure that at the moment, at least I know what’s going on and sometimes I can calm myself down by telling myself, “I’m was sleeping, I’m in the light sleep stage” because often I feel as though I am not sleeping during this time.
Hi Deb and everyone,
Still feeling only about 50% recovered. I’ll have 3 bad nights in row, then may get better slowly for 3-4 nights, then a few bad nights again. As I’ve mentioned before, it is the light sleep stages throwing me off. Sometimes I can’t tell if I’ve slept the first two hours. Then often I wake at 1am-1:30am, and can’t go back to sleep for a couple of hours. My good nights I sleep 5-7 hours, and every couple weeks may sleep one night for 9 hours. I still take Ambien as needed. I actually had Zzzzquill the other night, not for sleep but because I had a cold, for me it does nothing for sleep, but at least worked quickly for sinuses and cough.
I listened to a guided meditation recently the does the typical body scan, and then afterwards suggested to scan for what feels good? It seemed so positive, usually focused on what feels bad. So the last few nights where I’m up after the light sleep stage, I try and stay calm by focusing on what feels good (usually my stomach/abdomen are very relaxed) and then try to expand that goodness outward. Other times I just try the Let Go and Let God thoughts to come, the trick is not to focus on anything too much as then your mind is active/working instead of drifting and spacing out. That is not always easy.
As far as acceptance goes, I’ve just accepted I’m damaged goods for now and maybe forever. Details and memory are more difficult – I used to be so good with both. I’m just glad my job right now is working with numbers and not lives, like in health care.
This quote is from the Sleep School – hopefully it will inspire a bit more patience with ACT and recovery. I believe a few of us are at the 6 months point of practicing ACT, so maybe more improvement will be noticeable soon. I’m trying not to get so frustrated with recovery time, but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t display a bit of frustration once and a while. For me after about 6 weeks using ACT I was able to drive longer distances out of my neighborhood due to less fatigue. At about 10 weeks, I was able to take on a simple part time job, now at 6 months into it, working more hours at a bit more complex and detailed job. So some progress…
How long will it take me to recover?
“The results of our 2015 in-house clinical study showed that significant improvements across a wide range of sleep measures occurred within just 5 weeks, including a 50% reduction in self-perceived insomnia severity. Further significant improvements were then reported at 10 weeks, and then at 6 and 12 months, all of which culminated in 86% of the participants becoming ‘normal sleepers’, despite previously suffering from insomnia for over two decades.”
Hi Deb and everyone – I have not posted recently because I’ve been all over the place. I had some good nights then 3 weeks ago had a bad night – that was OK, I accepted that but then the next night when I couldn’t sleep I really got frustrated. Then I struggled and got desperate, and decided to try one more prop or gimmick to try to induce sleep and walked down to my neighborhood cannabis shop and bought a vape pen, a controlled dose of THC to help with sleep. For someone without chronic insomnia, this may help, it did make me a bit sleepy and mood was OK, but certainly did not put me to sleep. My job has me working about 3 nights a week till 9pm-10pm, which is not bad for the average person or for me prior to insomnia, but now it amps up my mind too much, making sleep difficult. I’ll will have to deal with this until April.
I will have 3-4 nights in a row of sleeping normal, then a series of bad nights. As others often mention, the light sleep is so common and annoying. Some nights I can get to sleep right away, but I’m in light sleep and wake up 2 hours later often then staying awake the rest of the night. It seems to take a couple hours just to stop struggling so I can just relax and be comfortable in bed, but eventually it happens. I re-read a chapter of the Sleep Book which helped with acceptance again. Then a couple nights ago as I was leaving work, this thought popped into my head, that maybe my brain is damaged, that the medicine I took almost a year ago did some damage to my nervous system and I am changed for the long term or forever. Whether or not this is true, it helped me with acceptance because I realized in my frustration that my goal was to get back to “normal”, I wanted to get back to being the old me, and this wasn’t happening as fast as I’d like, leading to struggle and frustration. Whereas now I realized there might not be an “old me” anymore (maybe an older looking me, haha) and just to accept that I am who I am now. I hope this makes sense to you all, but it has helped me relax a bit which is what my brain needs.
I used and am still using a low to average dose of hormone replacement therapy. I use an estrogen patch and progesterone pill.
That was fairly effective until I was prescried a medication unrelated to menopause, which is what led to the chronic insomnia.
Hi Deb! I’m so sorry you are having such a difficult time. I’m back and forth with good and bad stretches. I had about 10 nights in a row where my mind would just not shut off. If I had to work the next day, I’d take an ambien, and if not I’d barely sleep, one night not sleeping until 5am, but then was able to sleep until almost 8am (usually the pets wake me early). My last two night were better sleeping 6 and 7 hours, doing mild Stimulus Control helped. Thanks for posting the info from Dr. Kat – not to compare your different experiences with the one you are having now. I am doing that because your brain wants to make sense of things or fix things based on past experiences.
You mention light sleep often, I have that too. I just ordered a FitBit that tracks your sleep. Has anyone on this forum tried a sleep tracker to see how long you are actually sleeping and in what stages? I know back in July when I had a sleep study done, I felt like I did not sleep at all but the doctor said I slept enough for them to get a study so I’ve been curious about my sleep stages since then. And I had hoped by now I’d be over insomnia, but not yet. I’m always hopeful we will all recover, it is just a super long process.
Hi Steve, regarding acupuncture and herb recommendations – they have not recommended any herbal products for insomnia, but have offered some supplement advice for two other conditions. I feel if someone asks for herbal stuff they will offer, but they don’t push it. I take ashwagandha once or twice a day for stress. I know that no supplements will get me to sleep. My last three nights were bad, aggravated by my spouse so today I will try another acupuncture treatment, hoping to sleep well tonight. Even though I’ve had some bad nights recently I feel as though something has improved. The last two times I went to acupuncture during the day, I was able to relax and almost sleep, my mind becoming lazy and drifting, although I could faintly hear things in my surroundings. In general, in the past, I was not able to ever nap or drift off like that.
Sorry you have regressed too. Like you, I often have issues with the first hour of sleep. I think I am in the light sleep stage for too long and then for some reason it feels like my brain cannot progress into the second stage of sleep and then I wake up. Often I can go back to sleep quickly, but not at all this week. It’s awful insomnia seems to take so long to improve, but at least we are improving. I remember reading some of your posts earlier in the year where you hardly slept at all, so when I read you can sometimes sleep 6.5- 7.5 hours, that is good news and I sincerely hope you can achieve that again soon.