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).
Linking with No Place Like Home.