Ask the Grads

Whether you're in need of some friendly advice and encouragement from people who have been through the course or you'd simply like another perspective on implementing a new technique, you can pose your questions about the Sleepio course directly to the Graduates here!

Posted 29 Apr 2012 at 8:06 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 1 helped
    Session 4

    There are 2 cell phone towers near my house. I now think that my teeth braces act as antennae for these – i've gone from 6 broken hours per night to 3 broken hours per night since getting the braces. And this is what CONSTANTLY wakes me up during the night. Is this possible or conspiracy theory?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 452 comments
    • 155 helped
    Graduate

    I don't know about your braces zander, best discuss this with your dentist/GP.

    You are only on session 3 so you have hardly started on the programme.

    The main things to do now is as Prof has instructed you. Bed time when he says, get up for 10-15 minutes if you cannot sleep, and get up at the time instructed. This is a very strict process that you have to stick to and then you will start to see some results. It is not a quick fix but is a very successful way of reprogramming the body clock that has lost its way and doesn't function properly. Hence insomnia.

    To keep yourself awake before bedtime, potter around to stop you falling asleep. The idea is for night time preparations to be repetative so that the body clock starts to recognise that it is time for sleep. When you reach a certain amount of sleep Prof will add another 15 minutes to your sleep schedule and will keep doing this until you get to a point when you feel happy with your bedtime.

    We have people on here that have suffered insomnia for 30 years or so and they have had to work and support their families during this time. So you will be able to function at work even though it may be difficult, but think positive zander and feel confident that this programme will work for you, there is no reason why it shouldn't so long as you adhere to the rules given you by Prof.

    I was up and down the stairs several times a night when I first started, but keeping in touch with the community kept me going and eventually I started to get some good nights sleep with a few bad nights thrown in too. I have been on here over 2 years now and I sleep every night, sometimes I have to get up for 10 minutes or so but not very often.

    So relax, get plenty of fresh air and a little exercise every day. Eat healthily and watch the booze if you drink. Don't drink coffee after lunch time, have something that doesn't have caffeine in it.

    One thing that helps me to sleep now is when I get into bed I lay on my back with hands on my tummy and think of my breathing. This stops my mind from racing and is also calming. Once I am warm I turn onto my favourite sleeping position and go to sleep. The breathing technique is part of mindfulness so give it a go, it might help you. Some people on here do meditation or listen to sleep music which they get on the Internet. Make sure you turn electrical gadgets off about an hour before bed. Do something that relaxes you.

    Get yourself ready for bed before you do your wind down so that when bedtime comes around you can get straight into bed. Prof will be providing you with some tools to help you sleep like progressive relaxation and others. You will get these put into your profile over the coming weeks.

    Sleepio works zander, you will be OK, you'll see.

    Best wishes

    Ve

  • Sleepio Member

    • 29 comments
    • 9 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Zander, I'm so sorry you're going through such a tough time. I agree with all that Sarah says above. I have been finding SR incredibly hard too and I have to confess that I've tweaked it a bit just to get through and at least continue the best I can.
    I was also finding it really hard to pull myself out of my negative thinking and anxiety about sleep because I was so utterly exhausted but I downloaded a book yesterday by Sasha Stephens called The Effortless Sleep Method, this was recommended by another Sleepio member, and this has already really helped me to at least understand my insomnia better. She writes excellently about the way our minds can keep us in the negative cycle of insomnia by focusing too much on it after the initial trigger has passed. She has been through it all herself but now sleeps well, I think she has a real understanding of how most of us feel! I think you may find that much of what she says will ring true for you, it certainly did for me. I really would recommend it, it needs to be read right from the beginning, but I read it in half a day. Her methods are similar to Sleepio, so I think could perhaps be used to complement it, although I would stick with Sleepio because there is plenty of evidence to show it works. I already feel more positive after reading it even though in just one night my sleep has not improved, so I'm still exhausted but not so depressed. She says we can't expect instant results, which of course is true, although I know it's hard to have the trust and patience we need when we're so low and totally exhausted.

    I had a terrible bout of insomnia over 25 years ago, it lasted 10 years, I really thought I would lose my mind and end my days in a psychiatric unit. I tried everything on the planet, except SR and CBT which I don't think were around so much then, but I came through it in the end, I can't put my finger on exactly how and when i came through it to be honest, it was a gradual journey of improvement and only happened after I took myself off all drugs and all counselling etc because I felt that these were perpetuating my problem by making me focus too much on it. I also started a new job and was forced to focus more on that and also on the fact that I did get a few rare snatches of sleep and this gave me the confidence that my body could actually sleep. I wouldn't necessarily recommend coming off ongoing treatments but it was just my way of handling it back then. Admittedly I'm back into an insomnia cycle now, and have been for 10 years, I know exactly what the triggers were, everyone has them from time to time, but after reading Sasha Stephens book yesterday I think I understand now exactly why these triggers turned into long term insomnia. The power of our thoughts are so strong.

    Please don't give up hope, you are making steps to improve your sleep and it will work for you, your body CAN sleep otherwise you wouldn't fall asleep easily at the beginning of the night, I expect what makes us wake up properly in the night time instead of momentarily, like other normal sleepers, is the instant negative thought association that goes with this, I'm the worst culprit. I also wonder if you're staying up too long when you wake up? Perhaps listen to one of the many guided sleep meditations on You Tube on your phone through headphones and don't look at the bright screen, find them in advance of the night time, they may calm you quickly and make you realise that you are sleepy again, there are several 10 minute ones and maybe you can get back to bed quicker.

    You don't seem to have moved beyond session 3 and I'm not quite sure why but i think it is worth it, I have found some of the techniques on Sleepio to be quite useful, and can also be downloaded on a free App if you're signed up to Sleepio, some may work for you and others won't, we are all different. I had heard about many of them before but it helps to hear them explained again and maybe in a different way.

    So, good luck Zander, you can get through this horrendous time. Good luck also with whatever new job you do, you will survive it despite your exhaustion, and I'm sure that won't last long because your sleep WILL improve.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 1 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 4

    Thank you Ve, this is very reassuring. Im feeling better the last few days. I still cannot get more than 4 hours sleep but i don't feel too bad, my head is more clear than it was, presumably as the quality of sleep is improving. I was very bad last week but Im pretty sure this was related to a big boozy night I had last Sunday – a Halloween party. I got to bed at 3am and didnt get up until 8am. This seems to have thrown me off for 5 days or so. Im not going to touch more than a few glasses of wine once a fortnight from now on.

    Thanks again, I read your message a few days ago and immediately felt better.
    Mark

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 1 helped
    In reply to a deleted comment
    Session 4

    Thank you Jane. I was wondering could I extend my window slightly because currently Im on a 5 hour window and always end up awake for about an hour during the night (I get up and read until sleepy). I've adjusted slightly to a 5 and 1/2 hour window and I'll see how that goes. Yes I have completely committed to SRT. I actually started before joining Sleepio and have done about 50 days or so. The only slip ups have been when I went out drinking – both mornings I slept in and it has really thrown me off. Im feeling better the last few days and feel like Im ready to start working again. I should be starting next weekend. Thanks for your reassuring words Jane!
    Mark

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 1 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 4

    Thank you very much Angelina, I have been feeling better the last few days. I'm going to get that book today. It is bizarre how spells of intense insomnia seemingly come from nowhere – 1 year ago was getting 7 hours straight. I completely ignored sleep hygiene though so I think that was why I ended up back as bad as I ever was. Thanks for your encouragement, I feel more positive these last few days. Ill post here about that book, giving my thoughts.
    Mark

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1947 comments
    • 454 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Mark, this insomnia is a tough nut to crack but I'm sure by all the good advice from other Sleepios above reassures you that you are on a program that does WORK. I think you have been hear for about six weeks but still on level 3, I dont understand why that is I presume you are completing your sleep diary and having weekly vists with the Prof and his dog. Maybe you should contact sleepio and ask why you have'nt move futher.

    My experience going through the start of the program was that what I did through the day had a major effect on how I slept. As with all aspects of this program determination to self help are vital and you have to push yourself to do things that maybe you don't feel upto. Like having exercise during the day, a simple good walk just for an hour makes a lot of difference, and yes even in bad weather. When you are have poor sleep at night its easy to have a nod at some point during the day or evening, fatal you must avoid this or pay the price. I like a drink or 2 or more but I don't drink after 6.30pm this was hard for me but it made a major difference.

    No point me repeating all the good advice given above as I endorse most of it except if you are struggling stick to the letter of the program, no short cuts, zero flexibilty. The tougher it is for you now the quicker you will see the benifit then you can ease off.

    Peacock mentions the pre-bed windown period which is very important, follow her advice, ready for bed before it starts and a long soak in the bath is good, before you go to bed make a list of EVERYTHING you have to do next day this is very helpful as you dont lay in bed and start remembering things you must do but have forgotten, then last thing turn lights down or even off and just sit and relax in the dark for15 to 20 minutes. Go to bed and lights out immediately and no reading or looking at ipads.

    If you started to train for a marathon you would have to train VERY hard just to complete it, same here put in the effort and you will enjoy good results like a good nights sleep most nights and feel tons better, quality of life much improved in every way.

    Hope things improve for you very soon.

    Holiday.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 7 comments
    • 2 helped
    Graduate

    hello
    I have been dealing with insomnia for quite some time now ,after trying many ways of dealing with it with hardly any success I finally found a little trick that so far seems to be working fine for me. Every day just before sunset I take a 4kms walk then follow the sleepio program by going to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time.
    I hope my method will help someone with insomnia.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 452 comments
    • 155 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Mmmmmmmmmmm not sure about this rammer. My knowledge of recreational drugs is zero. The idea with sleepio is that you don't need to take anything to learn to sleep again, and if you continue this you will not build up any confidence in getting to sleep on your own.

    Some of us have started sleepio while on prescribed medication and have then weaned off of them as we work our way through the programme.

    I hope you find sleepio helpful, it has a high success rate so long as you work to the programme.

    Ve

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1947 comments
    • 454 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    You take whatever you wish rammer but I don't think other Sleepios should follow your suggestion. But you are free to deal with your problem your way.

    Holiday.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 7 comments
    • 2 helped
    Graduate

    Hello
    I am not suggesting anyone to follow my way of dealing with my insomnia.All I am saying is what helps me sleep.instead of using sleep meds that gives you terrible side effects and most of them do not help as they should plus after a certain time you'll have to up the doze plus according to studies increase the risk of cancer later in life I chose something supposedly illegal that has no side effects no drowsiness during the day and no zombie like feeling afterwards plus I get to sleep.
    The sleepio program is great it gives you all the tools to help you sleep naturally but it does not stop your insomnia instantly once you finish the course.Of course my way of dealing with insomnia is not for every one no guaranties it would work for you.For just me?

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1947 comments
    • 454 helped
    Graduate

    Hi rammer as I commented you handle your problem your own way but I would ask how will you know if this program has work for you if you take this drug, which is not prescribed or controlled and at the end you still are not sleeping. The drug you are taking could cause rebound insomnia which is very hard to deal with ! also it is highly addictive I hope other sleepios don't follow your example but it's your way and I hope it works for you. I doubt it.
    If, you decide to try the program without this particular 'assistance' maybe I could help you I've had over 40 years of insomnia been addicted to benzos but got through it and much better.

    I do hope things work out for you rammer.

    Holiday.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 1947 comments
    • 454 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hope things are ok with you rammer try keeping with the program and posting your progress or even the difficulties, there could be good advice on hand.

    Holiday.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 1 helped
    Session 4

    Im 2 months into SRT – I started before joining Sleepio – and I've shown zero progress. I sleep approximately 3.5/4 hours per night and have had a 5.5 hour window for 2 months. I fall asleep immediately, and when I wake up (which is veery very frequenetly), I get back to sleep fairly quickly. The problem is when I'm asleep, the mechanics of sleep – going through phase 1, 2, 3, 4 – break down. I stay in a horrible light sleep (this was confirmed by a sleep study). So all the relaxation techniques in the world aren't helping because these are good for putting one to sleep, but I have never had a problem dropping off. I thnk that my brain has been damaged and is unable to go through the normal phases of sleep.

    Yesterday I cam close to dying. I was driving home from a new job on the dual carriageway. I felt absolutely exhausted from 2 nights of 3 broken hours sleep and an exhausting day at work. I had a microsleep. I awoke just as I was crossing into the lane beside me and was about to hit another far. I swerved back just in time. I've never been so terrified in my life, it was the closest to death I've come. I pulled off the road and screamed and screamed in rage because no matter what I do, the insomnia wont subside (the last 7 months have been the most insanely intense I've ever gone though). I stayed for an hour on the side of the road, shaking and despairing. Im going to cycle to work instead even though its an uphill 40 minute cycle. At least theres no chance of microsleeping on a bike. I will continue SRT but I'm not seeing the point. Whatever I have, whatever is waking me up every 5 minutes, is not being fixed by SRT. Sorry to be depressing, Im in complete despair.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 452 comments
    • 155 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Sounds like you need a trip to the doctor for some sleep pills for a while zander. Some sleepios are on meds when they first start and then taper them off as their sleep begins to improve. I was on Diazapam for a little while after starting because I wasnt getting any sleep at all. My body seemed to jerk awake if I started to sleep.

    So sorry you are having such a horrible time, I feel for you and I hope you can get some help soon.

    I understand that you are frightened and frustrated zander but I have lived a very sheltered life and so I don't like the 'F' word so please don't use it on here.

    We are all here for you so let us know how you are getting on. Have you tried any relaxation methods. Also, how long have you had insomnia for?

    As far as sleepio goes, you are right at the beginning stages so keep trying, don't give up.

    Best wishes

    Ve

  • Sleepio Member

    • 12 comments
    • 3 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Mark,
    I'm really sorry to hear about your experience driving. It would have been very scary. I'll admit I had your safety in mind when I wrote my last couple of posts to you, as I knew you'd been stringently applying SRT for a long period of time. Thanks for letting us know what happened. We're all here for you and will be trying to support you as best we can.

    It sounds like the issue of light sleep with frequent wakenings is one of the main problems for you. Consolidating your sleep into an appropriate window is intended to facilitate a deeper sleep as you know. However Sleepio is not all sleep restriction. Your activities during the day and any extra stress will have a large effect on your sleep. Being physically active, eating regularly and doing some relaxing and enjoyable activities will all help your sleep. Identifying the factors that may be interfering with your sleep will help but remember that everyone can have poor sleep when going through a stressful time.

    It's also really important to modify your thoughts about sleep so you're less anxious about your sleep. I was listening to one of the podcasts by Sleep Hub and one of the sleep experts commented that in a recent meta analysis of CBT for insomnia, when the components were broken down to see which elements were the most effective, the cognitive component was found to be extremely important. I'm not an expert but for example, maybe you could reconsider your experience of light sleep and the thought that it's because your brain is damaged that you're getting poor sleep. I've been reading a book called “End the Insomnia Struggle – a step by step guide to help you get to sleep and stay asleep” (such a long title!). It comments as a key take home message that “Your brain knows how to sleep. You just have to get out of it's way.” I also think I'd be getting very light sleep in as sleep clinic as well.

    Try and make sleep less of a struggle if you can. I try and think of it as a life skill I'm improving and that it may just take some time. I'm still experimenting with light sleep and those night time awakenings and finding what helps me get back to sleep the best. Last night I visualized the connections in my brain reconnecting to facilitate sleep and then focused on an image of myself sleeping. It seemed to help me but you'll find in time the things that help you best. It might even be that you don't need too many tricks as sometimes doing too many things can make you feel that you need to “work” at your sleep which can be counter productive.

    I hope and trust that things will improve for you very soon. Take care.
    Jane

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 1 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 4

    Sorry about the F word, im deeply frustrated and down. I've had insomnia for 11 years. Started suddenly 1 night when I was 23. Literally overnight went from 9 hours sleep straight per night to 2. But this time last year I was sleeping 6 hours straight most nights. It's degenerated horribly since then, like nothing I've experienced before.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 452 comments
    • 155 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Can you pin your insomnia down to any cause zander?
    9 hours sleep sounds heavenly, hope you get that back.

    Work hard with the programme zander and you may just get those hours back. Be patient and take it one day at a time.

    Ve

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 1 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 4

    No, nothing changed in my life, I just suddenly stopped sleeping. This time last year I was sleeping 6 hours a night, which was fantastic. But for the last 6 months I cannot get into a deep sleep. Ive never had it for 6 months straight like this before.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 30 comments
    • 1 helped
    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 4

    Thanks for the comment Jane. Yeah light sleep with frequent awakenings is my problem. I almost never have difficulty falling asleep. Most of my awakenings are 'mini-arousals' as the sleep clinic called them. So I'm not awake for long. This means that I often dont have to employ the quarter hour rule since I usually get back to sleep quickly. The problem is these awakenings are so frequent, it feels like they are every 10 minutes. It's like someone is beside me shaking me awake at every 10 minute interval. I do lots of the stuff you mention – I turn off phone in the evening, I wind-down, I've meditated every day for years. I think this is why I have no difficulty falling asleep. The problem is my brain seems to be unable to go through the 4 phases of sleep (I feel stuck in phase 1 and 2 and the sleep study confirmed this). More and more I think there is a physical cause to frequent awakenings. For example, I may have tinnitus (I can hear, or think I can hear, ringing in my ears at times). I'm going to approach local hospitals and universities to see if they want to study me. I will continue this programme as I've no other choice.
    Thnkas
    Mark

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