Forum Replies Created
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?
Mac- It is great to read about your progress, I hope you are feeling better day by day!
My update – after almost 3 weeks of very good sleep, I had a relapse! Four nights ago I had a nil sleep night. I felt a little bit worse than other times, made some mistakes at work, but was able to correct them. Anyway, was not that concerned because usually, I would sleep fairly well the next night after not sleeping. Well, the next night, I was exhausted but could not sleep, so at just before midnight, I called it a bad night and took my first Ambien in 9 weeks. I slept for about 5.5 hours and felt good the next day. However that night I also could not sleep and at 12:30 am took an Ambien for a 2nd night because I had a big event the following day. The last two nights I have fallen asleep on my own (no meds) but it took until 12:30am, and 12 am, but was able to sleep 6-7 hours. Today I had a day off and decided to get some acupuncture, it had helped somewhat in the past. I do not feel bad about taking the Ambien, occasional use is what it is for and it helped me do what I needed to do. Now, hopefully more mindfulness and a few acupuncture sessions will bring me back to more regular sleep again. I know it is normal to relapse, but I was hoping I’d be the exception!
I am on this forum due to being one of the small percentages of people that have had a terrible reaction to a medication, one of the side effects being insomnia. In this case, it was due to anti-fungal medication. This same reaction happened about 17 years ago due to taking an anti-depressant, Celexa. Taking Celexa was one of the worst experiences of my life, other than this year with the anti-fungal. Celexa not only gave me terrible insomnia but, terrible memory issues, headaches, sweating, anorexia, and I started to develop serotonin syndrome. My doctor was totally ignorant of my side effects and just told me I could always check into the hospital under a 5150 hold.
I know everyone’s’ body chemistry is different, and anti-depressants are very helpful to some people. I didn’t take the med while doing SRT, because I had no issues with insomnia before starting it. Be careful about going down the medication route. For me, instead of taking an SSRI, I should have shopped for a better therapist or just someone who could have suggested some lifestyle changes due to a very stressful family and self-employment environment at the time. I know this is extreme, but you asked, so here is my experience.
Mac0908 – I think just the fact that you have accepted healing from insomnia will take a long time is such a positive step in “letting go”. If you’ve only had two bad nights in two weeks, that is major progress, do you feel any better during the daytime? What do you think your average amount of sleep per night has been for the last 2 weeks?
I think I’ve reached a turning point in healing. Since Nov. 1st, I’ve had only 2 bad nights, however, I can see how my brain still needs further healing. Like last night, I worked later until 9:30pm, had a late dinner and went to bed at 11:30pm. Although I fell asleep almost right away (a miracle for me) I was waking every 2 hours, my brain was hyperaroused – dreaming and replaying all my work activities all night long. What I tried to do was acknowledge I was indeed sleeping, and that I can get up, get a cup of water, use the bathroom and go back to sleep, because “I was actually sleeping!” In the past, the anxiety of thinking I was awake was enough to make me wide awake. That light sleep is tricky to deal with.
Jonathan – so glad you finished the Sleep Book. I took notes and reviewed a lot after reading it. Just remember getting over insomnia in general takes a while. The Sleep Book gives a 5 week course, but in reality, I’d say it might be more like a 5 month process. I hope you don’t have withdrawal from stopping the sleep-aids, you can stop them slowly as in a short amount of time I believe you’ll have better daytime energy by just relaxing and resting in bed and then you can get away with the nil night sleep now and then you’ll realize you won’t feel so bad and the meds aren’t needed so much. Staying in the light sleep stage for longer than normal seems to be the norm if you’ve had chronic insomnia. If you notice it, just tell yourself you are sleeping, in a light sleep stage but sleeping and hopefully you’ll gently drift off again.
Hi Steve – hope you are over your cold and your truck is repairable. I just wanted to say I had your recent sleep pattern of good sleep 7-8 hrs one night, the next 2-3 hours for what felt like the last three weeks of October. It was if the one good night sleep made me feel so good and had so much energy that I couldn’t sleep the following night.
Since Nov 1st, I’ve been getting mostly normal sleep, 6.5 hrs to sometimes 9 hours. (9 hrs is too much, but maybe my body is trying to catch up). Since 11/1, I’ve had two poor nights sleep, one night almost nil sleep and two nights ago 2-3 hrs sleep. Both nights I feel my events during the day brought on hyperarousal at night and also both nights my husband was up for several hours too. He has kidney dialysis 3x week and often gets muscle cramps at night or just feels anxiety after the treatment.
After reading Borgesbi’s post, I just had to write that I too think it is amazing – all your insights are so helpful!
My update and quick summary. Started ACT Aug 1st, had slow and erratic improvement through August and Sept. About Oct 1st I had one week of normal sleep then for the next 3 weeks I’d range from zero to 8 hours of sleep per night, probably averaging 4.5 = 5 hours per night. Because I was resting in bed at night, my energy during the day improved and I felt better. Since Nov 1st, I’ve had mostly normal nights sleep again, about 8 hours if my cat does not wake me up too early. Three nights ago I had what felt like a no-sleep night, in Deb’s post above mine, she describes well what I was going through. I feel like I was in light sleep for 45 min, then was awake for about 5 hours, sometimes feeling like I would drift off, only to get alert a few moments after drifting and then in light sleep for the last hour. I had to work a short 4-hour shift the next day and didn’t feel bad at all!
From Borgesbi’s post, I’d have to agree with the comments about the arousal system being on for my nil sleep night. No anxiety, I had just slipped into a bad pattern of something from my pre-insomnia life and I believe it contributed to insomnia that night. I had an early morning class for tax preparation – I didn’t go outside for exercise, I forgot to eat, stayed after class and got obsessed with doing computer work in advance so then I also forgot to drink and hydrate, then decided I need some fresh clothes for work, I went to the mall for 2 hours which really overwhelms me. Too many choices, I generally shop online. So I basically treated myself poorly. Then before bed, my husband made a neutral comment that he noticed my sleep seemed to be improving and that might have caused me to over monitored my sleep. My sleep doctor said insomnia will be a lifelong issue for me, so thinking about it as a chronic disease is very helpful. So I just wanted to say to everyone to not be discouraged, stay patient, you will have some setbacks, and you will slowly recover and feel better.
Mac – you asked about my insomnia experience. I had it since I was a child. I often could not fall asleep and would open my blinds and read books with the light of the streetlights shining in. Sometimes I would be up until 2am and if I went to sleep I’d have this same confused, repetitive dream. I was very neglected as a child and therefore I think there is this continued underlying anxiety with me. To get over anxiety I have to really dig deep to find the core origin of it, and the same with insomnia, had to really dig deep to find out what is preventing sleep on various nights. I studied to be in the healthcare profession and enjoy reading about physiology and stuff. When Deb mentioned the amygdala and ACT I searched them both and found articles about mindfulness meditation being able to heal the amygdala after about 8 weeks of practice. I also read people’s recovery stories and realized recovery could take several months if almost a year, and then thought about my progress and realized that once I started to recover, it would be most likely a minimum of 4 months. With all that, I felt I had realistic goals and so I could accept a slow process, learned to have patience and just accept that I had insomnia, talk about it more openly to get it off my mind, and when I did that, others would open up to me about their experiences and usually they did more of the talking and it seemed to be therapuetic to both of us. The reason I brought up my childhood is that my brain has probably learned these insomnia pathways and likes them and often would revert back to them. That is were the mindfulness can help override these pathways, but I read they never go away. Prior to ACT I was listening to guided YouTube videos for about 20 minutes almost daily. My adult daughter recently began to have epilepsy again after several years of remission. Her neurologist talked about the brain just liking certain pathways, he could not explain why the brain chooses or likes certain pathways, but recommended she start taking medication now to disrupt the brain pathways that are causing the seizures before they become too comfortable.
This year my insomnia developed from taking a medication, terbinafine for toe nail fungus. I was probably the 1-2% of the population who had insomnia as a side affect. I didn’t understand what was happening at first and took the medication for almost 3 weeks. The medication is designed to stay in your system for about 12 weeks. So I was destined to have chronic insomnia for 3 months, terfinafine seemed so powerful that even Ambien was only about 50% effective, plus I had other awful side effects. I feel I could have recovereda bit sooner but developed anxiety towards sleep. The situation was that at the start of my insomnia, my spouse was dating another woman. He came home about the time I was almost falling asleep, so then the dog would bark and startle me, then he would often make some food, banging dishes around in the kitchen anywhere between 10pm-1am. I didn’t care about the dating, but the late-night noise caused me to have anticipatory anxiety, and then I never could relax at night. I went to a sleep doctor and had a sleep study. The doctor also treats my husband. I told him what I just wrote and the doc advised to sleep in a separate room and suggested SC. I did this for about 3-4 weeks. We have a small place, and so I ended up sleeping on the floor in my daughter’s art studio, very uncomfortable. The SC helped for about 2-3 weeks, then the routine of it started to give me anxiety. Just prior to insomnia I had painted and redecorated my bedroom. I really liked it and wanted to get back into my comfortable place. And set my mind to take back my bedroom. Then about 3 weeks later I read about ACT from this forum and tried it. During the process of acceptance, something might trigger a negative event from the past, I would welcome it at night and if it persisted I would search online for strategies to cope with it and have compassion for myself. Often during the day I would lean into the uncomfortable thought or feeling and name it. And then say, sleep anxiety, career regrets, or resentment is taking a hike with me today. Then when I was done with my hike I’d recheck to see what was still with me. Often something dropped out, and if a happy emotion came along like Joy I’d welcome Joy with me in the car ride home. I feel like ACT helped me psychologically deal with negative emotions and events by really feeling them and learning to accept them and that made them easier to let go, not obsessing over them which can be terrible when you have sleep-onset insomnia. Plus lying and just relaxing in bed gives me more energy to get through the day, and the busier I am the less I think about insomnia. I do struggle sometimes, if the lite sleep is bothering me or if I’m struggling I often get up, go downstairs, get some water, give my body a little massage, go back upstairs and often I can get back to sleep. Its like a reset. My sleep doc also told me I am in lite sleep for too long and just remind myself I am in lite sleep, I am sleeping, and this message is sometimes just enough to put me back to sleep. FYI, I did take a lot of Ambien between March and July. Started ACT in August, took Ambien about 1x week in August and now 2 months since my last Ambien. Sorry this is so lengthy, but its a complicated story.
Hi Jamie, I read Deb’s response to you and I just wanted to say my experiences with insomnia parallel Deb’s and her advice and solutions were very helpful for me. I tried SR for a few days, and as Deb wrote, in general for me my anxiety can be so great that it overrides the sleep drive. This could be from patterns of childhood, from adverse childhood experiences. Acceptance of my insomnia, talking about it and not feeling embarrassed about it, like I was a failure or something for not sleeping was the turning point for me feeling better. Using ACT was most helpful to accomplish this. SR was extremely stressful and while SC was helpful in the beginning it didn’t address underlying anxiety. As Deb mentioned, practicing welcoming and mindfulness during the day worked out better for me. My anxiety was not really about sleep itself or the bed, but how the effects of insomnia were affecting my life. Not being able to work and therefore income and savings issues, relationship issues, and planning my activities of daily living like meals and housekeeping due to fatigue and brain fog. For me practicing ACT and learning to welcome and lean into really uncomfortable feelings of shame, anxiety, regrets, etc that came up, instead of pushing them away was kind of intense that is why it is better to deal with them during the day, and if they don’t go away, journal at night once in a while. Now that I am working again and busier, I still try to practice the breathing exercises mentioned in the Sleep Book a few minutes when I first wake up, quietly in bed and/or during a break from work sitting in my car quietly for a few moments.
It takes some time, I’ve been doing ACT for 3 months so far and still have sleep onset issues, but most nights I eventually get at least 5 hours of deep sleep and maybe an hour or two of light sleep in the beginning. After reading some of Martin’s success stories, sleeping a good six hours is an achievement and I expect it will take many more months to get back to my previous 7-8 hours of sleep. Wishing you better sleep soon and remember you’ll need a lot of patience in the healing process.
I have to agree with Steve that at least for me, sleep restriction would definitely be incompatible with ACT. The greatest benefit of ACT in my case has been reducing my anxiety and resting in bed so I have more energy during the day. I’ve been attempting ACT for almost 3 months now because my energy has increased I’ve been able to start work again, although part-time and I take some continuing education classes. Twice in the last two weeks, I’ve had zero sleep nights and still have gone to work for an 8 hours shift the next day. For the people trying SRT, are you hoping this will speed up the recovery process? From what I’ve read and my personal experience, there is seems to be no quick fix for insomnia, but a process to let the brain change and heal.
Changing the subject – Does anyone still experience long light sleep stages? For me it feels like I’m in the light sleep stage for the first 2 hours of getting to bed, not even sure I’m sleeping.
delv-x – sorry for your unexpected relapse. It seems that once you start sleeping well the relapse is doubly frustrating. Glad you have a positive attitude that you will sleep well again. Since July, twice I’ve had almost perfect sleep for a week then as you said, out of nowhere I go back to poor sleep patterns, but slowly over time things are slowly improving.
Hi Steve – October has been a very strange month so far for sleep and life in general. At the beginning of the month, I had a week of almost perfect sleep, then the following week started going back down to 2.5 – 6 hours of sleep per night. That week I really struggled at night and it was difficult to stay calm and relax. However, the long term benefit of ACT over the last two months has given me more energy during most days so I decided to apply for seasonal/Christmas help at a retail store 5 minutes from my house. They started hiring and training me right away! After training, my body decided to sleep 9 hours one night and then the next night I could not sleep at all which was the night before I would be working on my own, of course. But made it through an 8-hour shift on no sleep! This week I honestly can’t tell if I’m sleeping or not. I still struggle with sleep onset, maybe taking an hour or two to fall asleep, then I feel like I don’t sleep, but probably lite sleep for 2-3 hours, then the last 2-3 hours of the night I sleep pretty well and deep. I’ve been doing less mindfulness, I feel like if I do it too late at night it interferes with my sleep. So I’ll probably try and do 5 minutes in the morning. Journaling seems to be helpful and that is better to do before bed to clear my head a bit, but I still need to practice that more frequently.
Regarding your neurology appt, I know it is scary, but not knowing what is going on is even scarier. My daughter had a neurology appt yesterday, she an MRI and EEG earlier this month. If you need an EEG, the test is done while you are sleep deprived, they want you to only have 3 hours of sleep the night before, so that should not be a problem for you! My daughter has an abnormal brain from birth, but at least nothing abnormally new showed up, but she will need to start meds for seizures. But that is OK, she has much less anxiety after seeing the neurologist, knowing he will care for her.
Deb – Bravo Bravo!! Watching you sing is the highlight of my day, great song! Even if I didn’t have insomnia, singing in front a group like that would have kept me awake all night. As Steve said, taking an ambien once in a while is not discouraging, kind of normal for a lot of adults. This last week has not been so great for me, but at least I’m functioning on a basic level. Probably will need to do more journaling or some other sort of therapy to deal with personal issues, I’m still feeling sensitive because of long term sleep deprivation and my reaction to stress makes it difficult for the brain to relax.
Steve – so glad you are getting normal sleep and I hope the neurologist can help with your issues. You mentioned feeling sleepy during the day and taking a nap…the week I started getting normal sleep I felt the same way. Pleasantly sleepy and also like my body wanted to make up for the hours of sleep I’ve lost over the past 7 months.