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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.
Today is my 10 month anniversary with insomnia, ugh. Last night my mind and body thought is would celebrate by staying up all night! This is the first no sleep night since mid-November, and that is because since then I’ve been taking 5mg of Ambien on the nights where I just don’t feel like I’m going to sleep, about 7x since Nov. But since I didn’t have to work , I thought I would just lay there and rest, and try to stay calm. I did have energy to vacuum, and hike the dog for 25 minutes, go food shopping, pay bills and will make dinner. But if I had to do critical thinking, that would not work very well.
I was starting to get better sleep since about Christmas, last week 5 nights in a row of falling asleep in 5 minutes and sleeping 7-7.5 hours. Then a couple days ago falling asleep quickly stopped. I liked what KarenP wrote about practicing mindfulness – daily. Once I start to feel better I get out of that habit, and like her, stress brings insomnia on much more quickly than my life prior to insomnia. So now I’ll listen to some guided meditation this afternoon. I also wanted to mention I got really great sleep after my last two acupuncture sessions that were 6 days apart. Here’s hoping the sleep drive will kick in tonight and I and everyone else here will have a deep and restful sleep tonight!
About ACT and practicing mindfulness – when I first started there were a few nights when I got zero sleep because I believe I kept my mind active all night practicing. However during those nights I did learn to relax, accept and let go so the next day I did not feel so exhausted compared to the nights of doing CBT-i or just laying there stressing out about my situation. There are still nights where I monitor my sleep too much making it difficult to fall asleep.
I tried to practice “welcoming” negative thoughts during the day, it was good for me as they were very uncomfortable and I wouldn’t want to face them all night, and then I could see how they would pass and not be so scared of them. For example I’d go on a 45 minute hike, at the beginning of the hike I’d be welcoming several different negative thoughts and I’d name them. At the end of the hike, I’d check in and realize some of the thougth were gone, had dropped off, sometimes replaced with joyful feelings. I think one the most favorable things about ACT was feeling more rested, even if I was not sleeping or sleeping well during the night, learning to relax in bed definitely increased my daytime energy, and with more energy I would feel a bit better, get more tasks done, and while doing them I would start to forget about insomnia, the thought of insomnia would not dominate my mind.
Hi Glynis and chronsombch!
If you were to read through some of my posts in the ACT part of this forum, you’d realize that I too have a very unsupportive spouse. Last spring when insomnia very extreme and I felt like I would die, I would get negative comments about my mental health, make comments about everything I ate or drank, and he had no problems about making lots of noise around the house while I was trying to fall asleep between the hours of 10pm-1am. Often I was just on the verge of sleep, but couldn’t with all the activity going on in my house.
I actually tried speaking with a therapist and she said I don’t need therapy for me, but certainly questioned why my husband’s behavior. So if I continued therapy it just would have been how to cope with him, rather than fix anything about me. I did see a sleep doctor 2 or 3 times. He is also my husband’s doc. Anyway, this doctor was so compassionate and encouraging, I told him all about my home situation. Just those couple times sitting with these professional people and joining this forum, really helped so much. And also due to spousal snoring or CPap noise, I started using earplugs, it does help but sometimes I end up hearing my own sounds like breathing or heartbeat too much.
Happy New Year Everyone!
It’s so nice to read your updates.
Pam- OMG, you have been through so much! You mentioned acupuncture, how long did you try it for and how many times a week? During my worst times of insomnia, last spring, acupuncture did help a little, mostly by reducing anxiety and there were a few nights where I actually slept for 7 hours after a session. I’m in my late 50’s, and I know starting in my 40’s my hormones did affect my sleep. I’m on HRT now and recently requested a slightly higher dose, my doctor objected, but I insisted because I was having so many night sweats and getting so hot. They have decreased with the new dosage. I know how you feel with the dark circles and bags under your eyes. I’ve always looked young for my age, last year a man in my neighborhood who is 9 years younger than myself wanted to date me. He had no idea of my age or that I was married. This year after insomnia, I feel I look my age, and aged if you know what I mean. I am seriously thinking of getting a liquid facelift, some injections to put volume in my cheeks.
Steve – my sleeping time pattern is similar to yours. I believe last week when I averaged my hours of sleep over 7 nights it was about 6 hours – that of course includes one night of 3 hours and another of almost 9 hours. Compared to 6 months ago I was averaging 2-3 hours of sleep per night, so hopefully, over the next six months I will be close to a normal sleeper. Also, I still am in the light sleep stage for longer than normal, especially at the beginning of the night. I also seem to have trouble transitioning from REM (dream sleep) back into stage 1 of light sleep, often waking after dreams.
Deb – thanks so much for all your insights and sharing and being open with your life and your journey for recovery. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be sleeping better without you.
For anyone new to this forum, for reference, I started ACT on 8/1/19, 5 months ago. It’s a slow, but steady process, especially for me since I’ve had a lot of personal stressors with jobs and marital, and family health issues. Stress definitely affects my sleep more so than pre-insomnia days.
Deb – have a great time in SF! SF is so beautiful. I live about 90 miles south of SF along the coast. Hope you get to hike in the Redwoods somewhere, that is just about my favorite thing to do. If you feel like driving, then Monterey/Carmel area is wonderful too. And of course I hope you will get some good sleep and have energy for the day.
Mac – so good to read you got 8 hours of sleep! As I read your post I started feeling refreshed myself remembering how good that felt.
Deb – Sorry to hear about your delayed recovery, but given your recent circumstances and stressors (even though they were positive stressors) I believe most normal sleepers would experience temporary insomnia before a big event like a party or traveling. Your party sounded delightful and I’m sure it will be fondly remembered for many years.
My recovery has not been stable either. At the beginning of November, I had almost 3 straight weeks of good sleep. Hardly any onset issues. Then there came new job issues and schedule changes and it seems the tiniest change or stressor will upset my sleep. And so since about Nov 20th, I’ve taken 4 Ambiens. I know my brain is slowly recovering, but I need to emphasize, slowly. My previous job was in retail, seasonal help so my hours were crazy, sometimes only 12 hours a week or then up to about 35 hours, having my stop time be anywhere from 4pm till 11pm. My body didn’t like all the variations. My new job has better pay and benefits, but will eventually require shift work, but for now I have 3 weeks of training from 7am-4pm. About 4 days before starting, I set my alarm for 5:15am so my body would adjust to the new schedule. I have sleep onset issues like Deb, and so it was so frustrating not sleeping until 1:30am or so. The night before my first day I did take an Ambien, I called it at 11:30pm. I’ve been trying to use the bed for only sleep, not even reading at night. I read on the sofa, and for 3 nights in a row, I was so cuddly and felt so relaxed around my Christmas decorations in the living room that I just fell asleep on the sofa in a very short time and slept for almost 6 hours most nights. The last couple weeks have had mostly 5-6 hours of sleep per night. With last night sleeping 7 hours, probably because my training went a bit better yesterday and I decided I am not doing anything extraordinary for Christmas this year, giving a gift to myself to just de-stress and relax and my family will just have to accept it. Even on my days off I am still waking about 5:30am so not to upset my sleep schedule. I am still trying to practice ACT and mindfulness, whether it being sitting in my car for a few moments focusing on my breathing, or deciding to just accept my insomnia at night and decide to just relax in bed and throughout the day trying to remember to lean into my anxieties or uncomfortable feeling. But since having good sleep, it does take a while now to get to the point of acceptance when I’m struggling with sleep onset issues.
Da1265 – I’m glad you ordered the Sleep Book, its a fairly short, easy read but take your time getting through it. I just reviewed parts of it again since I had a relapse two weeks ago. Once I started sleeping well I slowly fell out of the recommended practices. The past 3 nights I’ve had bad sleep onset issues, but at least getting about 5 hours sleep a night. But that is only because with my current work situation the earliest I need to arrive is 9am, so I can sleep in to 6:30am or 7am, but in a couple weeks changing jobs and will need to start at 7am, so I’m hoping me sleep onset will improve as I’ll need to fall asleep earlier.
Although the Sleep Book recommends staying in bed if you can’t sleep, I remember Deb saying at times she would get up and journal. The last 2 nights I got out of bed at 11:30am and 12am and went downstairs to write in a journal for about 30 minutes. One night I fell asleep in about 5 minutes after journaling, the 2nd night it took an hour, but at least I slept enough to get me through the day.
Rosebudd, there is an ACT thread on here for those of us who have read the Sleep Book. It is a long process to healing, but if you try and practice every day, you will slowly start feeling better. And for me although my recovery come a few days at a time then might relapse, the greatest benefit from the Sleep Book has been increased energy during the day so I could start living my life again. Wishing you better sleep soon.December 5, 2019 at 3:46 am in reply to: A night of no sleep and being unable to nap – a recepy for disaster #34318
Edgar, yes I remember how frustrating it can be to travel. Many years ago I was a travel agent and I hated when my companions would get so excited about taking a red-eye flight to save time, they get to travel and sleep at the same time – but not me, no, always miserable the first couple days of a long journey and then couldn’t deal with the time change.
Anyway, I would mostly recommend the mindfulness meditation because if practiced daily over time (at least two months) studies have shown it helps to shrink the amydala – the fear area of the brain and this will help with insomnia recovery. And also when my insomnia was really bad, like I wanted to die, doing mindfuness in the afternoon helped me just enough to pull together a decent dinner for my family, although trying to clean up afterwards was another story. You should definitely check out the Resources tab at the top of Martin’s website, very helpful stuff to help you get started dealing with insomnia, it just takes a long, long time to start healing.December 4, 2019 at 5:14 am in reply to: A night of no sleep and being unable to nap – a recepy for disaster #34298
Hi Edgar – I know you must feel incredibly awful right now, I’m going on 9 months of insomnia, the first 5 being the worst experience in my life, but slow healing the last 4 months.
About napping – I can’t nap. As a toddler my mother would complain that I wouldn’t settle down for a nap, she’d walk me around trying to tire me out, I might have got tired but would not nap. I only remember two times as an adult where I’ve been able to nap, and I’m in my late 50’s now. I don’t know if people like us were born this way or early childhood trauma, or just not feeling safe or unloved as a child caused this, but here we are, and so sorry. One of the few things that helped somewhat when I couldn’t nap was listening to guided mindfulness meditations, there are many on YouTube, or you can download apps like Insight timer or Calm. Getting calm from a 20-30 min guided meditation was the difference between being able to stay at home or checking into a psych ward.
Hi Everyone –
Hope those of us in the USA have recovered from Thanksgiving, and those of you in the other parts of the world I hope you are sleeping better. Deb, glad things are getting back to normal for you and you are able to make small trips and journeys without any setbacks.
I had a relapse 12 days ago, and had 5 bad nights out of the last 12. One of those was related to working very late, just could not unwind. It was the same thing for many of my co-workers, many only got 3-4 hours sleep on Thanksgiving and the next day at the start of our shift, one woman said she’s been awake for 29 hours already. So I did not feel so alone. I’m assuming my brain still needs more time to heal. I had so much anxiety one night thinking about relapsing – racing, pounding heart, panic. I told myself I can change my thoughts and tried to go back to the memory of beginning to practice ACT. Eventually, my heart slowed, I relaxed and fell asleep for 3 hours. Since that time I am falling asleep a bit better, but STILL in light sleep. I swear I am awake the first 2 hours of going to bed, but then realize that I did not notice my husband getting in and out of bed at night so then I know I was asleep, plus been having very realistic dreams which make me feel awake. Going for another acupuncture session today hoping it will help with relapse recovery.
Hi Steve – Last Spring when my insomnia was really terrible because I had this long-acting medication in my system is when I tried acupuncture. Probably 9-10 sessions between the end of April and the end of June. I don’t know if anything at that time could have cured me from insomnia because the medication in my system was so powerful, however there were 3 nights after an acupuncture session where I fell asleep for 7 hours. That was so great, to have 7 hours of sleep one night a week when normally only sleeping for 2.5 hours. I felt it did lessen my anxiety in general which was helpful.
Starting acupuncture again this week, after this first session I felt normal and then had a fair night of sleep, light sleep for an hour, then woke for an hour, then 5 hours of deep sleep. Yesterday, the day after acupuncture I felt as if a cold virus was coming on, tired and achy. It might have been a cold or the after-effect from acupuncture. I read this can be common 2-4 days after a session. I listened to my body this time and did not push myself. Last night, I fell asleep so quickly I don’t even remember going to bed. The only thing that woke me was lights turning on (because our power went out and the lights were left on). But I slept for almost 8 hours. I will probably go again Saturday or Sunday. Most of the needles were placed in my ears, about 5, and then on other various points on my body. I went to acupuncture once for cervical spine issues and for that problem the needles were placed differently. FYI, if you itemized on Schedule A on your tax return, acupuncture is considered a legitimate medical expense.
Deb – Hope you enjoy your trip this week! Just wanted to say thanks for your reassuring response. I felt so calm after reading your post.
Are you on medications for other health issues? Is your health generally good? It is common to have poor sleep around the time of menopause and beyond, have you considered trying HRT?