Insomnia hacks

Monday, June 6, 2016

Happy June, my friends. The month of roses and pearls, my favorites. 


So, I have some good news to report about my insomnia, and a few suggestions for those of you who struggle with it as well.

I've been doing a CBT (cognitive behavioral  therapy) program called SHUTi, or Sleep Healthy Using the Internet.

I was skeptical of this program at first, and wondered if I'd wasted $135. But now, after three weeks of following it, I'm starting to see some results.

I've had chronic insomnia for more than 15 years, and, until recently, had been on prescription sleep medication for almost eight years. Because of side effects, and, mostly, because it seemed to be losing its effectiveness, I stopped the medication. It takes me two to three hours every night (sometimes five!) to fall asleep, so I've been on the hunt for effective sleep solutions.

I'm only halfway through the SHUTi program, so I don't know what else I'll be learning or changing, but so far the biggest help has been the sleep restriction part of the program.

Yes, it gets worse before it gets better.

I've been filling out a sleep diary every morning to determine my sleep efficiency, which is basically time in bed versus total sleep time. My initial sleep efficiency rating was 73%. This morning, when I logged in to a new week, I discovered my sleep efficiency rating is now 91%!!

But I am only allowed 6 hours and 20 minutes of sleep at night for now. A couple nights last week I only got around 3 to 4 hours. But it is getting better.

Here are the basic rules about this part of the program:

** Follow your prescribed sleep window. Mine is 12:40 a.m. until 7 a.m., based on my sleep efficiency rating. (Note: this is not forever, just until I start sleeping better.)

** Do not go to bed before 12:40 a.m., but stay up later if you're not sleepy.

** Get up at 7 a.m., no matter what. Even if I only sleep 3 1/2 hours, I have to get up. This has been one of the most challenging parts for me, as I am not a morning person, and I generally sleep the best in the early morning. But I am motivated!

** No napping. (And you're looking at a girl who has a whole Pinterest board devoted to napping!!)

** Don't stay in bed longer than 20 minutes if you can't fall asleep. Get up and do something quiet until you're sleepy. I've never done this, thinking that getting up would get me wound up again. Now I'm playing solitaire (with real cards, not on the computer, where the lights would be stimulating to me) at 3 a.m. No fun, but better than the frustration of laying in bed hour after hour. The key is to do something quiet.

** No reading, computer, TV, etc., in bed. Bed is for sleep and sex only. Get up and go in another room to read or play solitaire, etc., if you can't sleep.

I've been really tired during the day, and have felt so like napping, but I force myself to get moving and do something to keep going.

I have had a couple nights where I've now slept almost my entire sleep window, and several nights when I've fallen asleep within 20 minutes. Nothing short of a miracle!!

This week I'm supposed to keep not only a sleep diary, but a diary of thoughts regarding sleep. Negative views of sleep can also impede sleep (as in, "oh no, what if I can't fall asleep?! I have so much to do tomorrow, I have to be well rested," etc. This can be replaced with, "well, I'm probably going to have a little more difficult time falling asleep tonight, but it's okay. I know I'll be able to handle tomorrow, even if I'm tired."). 

I'm the type of person who gets easily over-stimulated, and needs downtime. I've learned that I must shut off my computer and avoid the news and even a movie for several hours before bed. Sometimes I'm impatient about this (geez, just calm down already -- you're like a three year old who's had too much candy!! But of course that kind of negative self-talk doesn't help at all). Reading a gentle book (Elizabeth Goudge, Wendell Berry, Miss Read, or Grace Livingston Hill) or knitting seem to be the best activities for me. A warm bath with Epsom salts helps, as well as writing down a list of everything I need to remember for the next day.

I hope this information might help some of you. If you want any more info about this program, please feel free to email me (see contact me button in upper right-hand corner of this page).

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25 comments :

  1. I found it interesting that the program's initials spell out Shut I. And it is bringing some shut eye to you. That's great.

    It's hard to force yourself to stay up in the morning when you're exhausted from not sleeping the night before. How self-disciplined you are to be able to do so.

    I recently stopped watching TV in the evenings, or at least an hour before bedtime. My husband still watches, so I go to a different room to read a book. I feel reading is better conducive to sleeping than an action-packed TV show is.

    Hope your sleeping continues to improve.

    Blessings,
    Patti

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  2. You are my hero, Deborah, for trying this and reporting to us on it. I'm very interested but imagine it must be important to set aside some weeks where it might be easier to begin. Like not starting it when you're having guests or big events?

    I'm proud of you and happy for you, bless you as you attempt this.

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  3. It is good to hear that you are getting some relief!!!! I hope this continues to work for you.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

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  4. Its wonderful to hear that the programme is starting to work albeit slowly, such good news. Take care.

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  5. Hello Dear Friend, And I feel like I want to add goodnight and sweet dreams!!
    I am so glad you are getting some good results and taking a new approach to some better quality of sleep! I loved your last post on the tea maker and yes that tablecloth was lovely and the tea cup was like sunshine.
    I do hope you have a wonderful week and all these things will work well for you!
    Hugs, Roxy

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  6. I am so happy that you are finally getting some results, Deborah. I am not a morning person either but wish I was. My father always said the morning is the best part of the day. I have always been a night hawk, Hubby and me both. But our lives have changed drastically in the past year because his job requires him to get up at 4 AM and that has just interfered in our lives unbelievably. I will be so happy when he can retire. I am thankful for his job but I'm not happy with the hours he's working now. If we were twenty-five, it wouldn't be quite so bad but seriously, who wants to get up at 4 AM and go to work at our age?
    I hope this time next week, your sleeping pattern will be even that much better. Hugs to you and thank you for sharing with us.

    Blessings,
    Sandi

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  7. I am very thankful that you are seeing positive results with this program. This is great news and thanks for sharing more about the program. I hope you have a very nice week.

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  8. Dear Deborah
    This post is music to my ears!
    I'm a chronic insomniac too so I feel for you.
    However, I am a morning person. Because I'm still working I get up at 5:30 and I'm on the motorway by 6:45 ( as I've got older, I'm also much slower at doing things)!
    So what I'm leading up to is, because of the early start I could easily put myself to bed at 7:30pm - I'm also tired after a long day at work!
    I often read a few blogs and play a game of Mahjong (3-4 more like) on my iPad. Blue light is a no no but this is how I relax.
    I fall asleep easily but wake about 2am, I read and do crosswords ( in bed) then back to sleep 4am!
    I would love to sleep normally and will try the things you've mentioned, I'll let you know how I go.
    I take a quarter of a tablet most nights too.
    I'm flying down country to stay with my cousin for a few days and I don't think I will have computer access. I'll be in touch when I get back.
    Thank you dear friend I know how hard this is struggling with sleep.
    Shane x

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  9. Oh yea, Deborah, I'm so happy that something is working for you!!! It's very good of you to share your results with everyone that has this same issue. I'm also proud of you for getting off of the sleep meds. I'm an early riser, so I'm sleepy at night, and get around 7 hours of sleep, though not interrupted. My youngest son gave me a new sleep tea, which is Tulsi, and I like it a lot.
    Sweet dreams, my friend!

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  10. I'm so pleased to read that you are getting some results. So far so good and it sounds like you have hit on something really helpful!

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  11. Sleep is such a gift. I'm glad you're seeing results from the program and I hope they continue. Thanks for reporting in.

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  12. I'm so happy to hear that the CBT is starting to work for you. Please keep us posted on your progress. Before I lost my Fitbit (whoops!), it used to track my sleep but I was skeptical of the accuracy of the reported "sleep efficiency".

    There's a Pinterest board on napping?!?

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  13. I once worked with a gal that lived a life of sleepless nights as you've described before the start of your program. I felt sorry for her, as I do for you Deborah and can say I only had issues during menopause. My schedule of 'to bed at 11 and up at 6:30' every day seems to work for me. Sometimes I nap because I've been up during the night to the washroom or with the dog, or I'm plumb tired from a day of physical gardening.
    You have a support team here from your blogging sisters and I hope this program works for you, do let us know how you make out.

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  14. Interesting, Deb- and holy moly that is the most beautiful rose I have ever seen!

    I have been an insomniac as long as I can remember - and a VERY light sleeper. I am sorta surprised that I have naturally kinda done most of those things you mentioned.

    I wish the deepest most wonderful sleep!

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  15. Dearest Deborah,
    What a lovely rose and yes, roses and pearls are both my favorites too!
    So happy that you are seeing some results with your program and hoping that it will continue to go into a positive direction!
    Sending you hugs,
    Mariette

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  16. Hi Deborah,
    I am so sorry to hear about your insomnia. I do hope that your internet program helps you. I pray that you will soon have a good night's sleep. Love your June rose. Blessings, Karen

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  17. This is excellent news, Deborah! So glad you're beginning to see some results, which will perhaps make that $135 the best $ you ever spent! June roses and pearls are favorites of mine too. :)

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  18. Hi Deborah, so happy for you to find something that is helping your insomnia. What a blessing to be seeing some early results. Love June for it's roses and pearls too.
    Have a great week and blessings to you. xo

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  19. Hi Deborah...I'm glad to hear that you are getting some good results from your new sleep therapy. My problem isn't falling asleep, it's staying asleep for more than a few hours at a time. I feel like I sleep very soundly at first and then by 3 AM (sometimes earlier) I feel a though it's time to get up! I can usually turn over and fall back asleep but cannot sleep past 5AM on any given day...which actually isn't such a bad thing if you are the sort of person who likes the early morning time, which I do. Happy Tuesday to you and enjoy the rest of your week :)

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  20. So glad that you are finding some relief! Getting up so early must be hard, but it forces you to stick to a schedule and hopefully re-set your biological clock. I really need to get up at a set time, myself. Good tips - especially not watching stimulating television before bedtime. Hope you continue to find relief. xx Karen

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  21. Sounds like a great program and how wonderful to already see results. When I was weaning myself away from sleep meds many years ago, my doctor told me to never lay in bed longer than 30 minutes, to get up and do something quiet until I felt sleepy, even if that meant staying up all night. Forcing myself out of bed by a certain time in the morning was also suggested.

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  22. I am so happy to hear that this program is helping you! :)

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  23. Oh my Deborah, I can't imagine having to function without proper rest. I for one function on 6 hours of sleep during the week but on weekends, I try to catch up on my sleep. I along love to take naps.

    I am glad to see that you found a program that will help you with your insomnia. It's got to be tough to follow the requirements but I know you have lots of will power.

    Good luck and blessings.

    Janet

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  24. Your new blog is beautiful, Deborah! The old one was too, but I know we all need a change now and then.

    Daphne really was great to work with, wasn't she? I'm so glad I found her.

    Have a great day,
    Patti

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  25. I'm beginning to wonder if we are twin sisters of different mothers, at least as far as sleeping is concerned! I also avoid exciting movies or shows in the evening. I also desperately need a short nap most days at 2:30 PM. Your new sleep regime sounds so hard to do -- I would be crushed :( But like you say, you are desperate, and this requires desperate measures. I hope so much that it produces a good sleep pattern long term for you!

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