Dealing with Non-Restorative Sleep

This is a place for Sleepio members to discuss non-restorative or unrefreshing sleep. Feel free to discuss any aspect of non-restorative sleep here including your experiences and any advice you may have!

Posted 7 May 2015 at 11:02 AM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Late to this conversation, but I am just about to start week 5 in Sleepio. I am still in SR, and last night was the first where I actually slept thru the night without waking, in about the last 9 months. Normally I am up between 3-5 times, and get a total of 3-4 hours sleep. Problem this morning, even with 5 1/2 hours of sleep, I still feel absolutely worn out and not refreshed. Not at all what I was expecting from what, for me, was a very good night sleep. Any tips from graduates on NRS?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I'm another member of the unpleasant non-restorative sleep party. I'm starting week 5 at this point, and I haven't had a single night of what I would consider really great sleep since I started the course.

    My problem has never been falling asleep. It's always been staying asleep. I wake up multiple times a night. Sometimes, it's for a minute or two, other nights, I might not get back to sleep for hours. Sometimes, I wake up and I know it just isn't going to happen, so I get up and start my work day early.

    Every day I go around feeling like a zombie, some days worse than others. I'm tired of being tired all the time. Ugh.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Alex, let's get specific. When you wake up and 'know it just isn't going to happen', which of the Sleepio tools do you metaphorically reach for before you get up early and start your day? My desire to help you is so strong, as I completely relate to your problem, having come to Sleepio with the very same one. Nowadays, every night I wake up, feel briefly annoyed that it's too early (no clock-checking), congratulate myself for having slept well thus far and tell myself that I will definitely get back to sleep. I turn over and do a bit of mindful breathing … and (on a good day) the next thing I know is it's much later, sometimes it's actually the target time.

    I'm still working on getting to the end of my sleep window, in other words I'm continuing to follow all the rules and picking up more helpful tips from others to try. The biggest gain is I'm FEELING BETTER (sorry, I can't get the italics) about sleep despite not achieving the goals of a 7 hour night with no awakenings. Neither of those goals is seeming so important now, because there are compensations, after lots of weeks nay months of practice. Better routine, no worries about sleep, more energy. To me, that spells better quality, and I've accepted that and been able to stop worrying about the quantity.

    Five weeks in and ok, no GREAT nights sleep yet so it's very hard to stay motivated. But you've got just about all the toolkit now. Tell us how you're using it. Someone will be able to help you.

    jansy

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Alex
    Your problem sounds similar to mine when I started Sleepio. Lots of time in bed but long wakeful periods. For me SR was the thing that changed my poor, light sleep. From the beginning, I knew the SW midnight to 6am I was given wasn't going to work – I'd never be able to stay up that late without dozing off – so I changed it to 11.15 to 5.15.

    This was a real shock to the system as I've never been an early riser but it worked, giving me deeper, more concentrated sleep for a shorter time and a lot more energy! Trying to extend that has been challenging but I am averaging more than 6 hours of (usually) better and less broken sleep than when I started.

    Being in bed for more than 7 hours, even if I'm dozing, just makes me feel thick-headed and tired. I've learnt that, for me, shorter sleep brings better sleep.

    Hope this helps.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Well, I made it to graduation today, and guess what? Over the past 8 weeks I've slept consistently less and woken up in the middle of the night more than ever before.

    To be honest, I think that The Prof's relaxation exercises and thought redirections have made my problems worse, not better. For example, the exercise where you tense up the various parts of the body wakes me up and stresses me out. All the talk about negative thoughts has created more of them that I didn't have before.

    Prior to sleepio, if I woke up in the middle of the night I'd just lay there, happy and warm. I'd daydream about characters in a novel I might write someday which often would put me back to sleep. If that failed, I'd grab my phone and read boring news until I got tired and dozed off. If that didn't work, and I was truly wide awake, I'd switch to reading something interesting or get up and go to work early. Some nights, I'd get back to sleep quickly, other nights, it would be hours, or not at all.

    Usually it wasn't too bad because I work from home, and I have the luxury of having a flexible start time. As long as I get my work done and put the the required number of hours per week, nobody really cares what time I start or quit. If I was really wiped out, I could get away with sneaking off and taking a nap in the middle of the day.

    With sleep restrictions in place, a no-nap rule, and multiple middle-of-the night awakenings, I've been consistently prying my ass out of bed in the morning, and dragging around looking like a wilted lettuce leaf. I'm glad I don't have to go to work in person, but even folks on my Zoom meetings are starting to ask, “Are you ok???”

    “No,” I want to complain. “A tiny cartoon dictator, using a one-size fits all approach, has made it even less possible to get a decent night's sleep!” Ha!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Your sense of humour is still intact at least!
    I wonder if the reason you came to Sleepio, to gain control over your sleep, now seems as though it's resulted in the opposite – you are 'not allowed' to exercise the control over your sleep that you once could. Added to that your mind is now more focused on sleep than ever which is increasing anxiety and maybe a little anger?
    I am glad you feel you can express how things are going.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 10 comments
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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    I have been on the programme for about as long as you and I still have times when I struggle. But other nights not so much. Theres no way I'd call myself an expert but it seems to me sleepio offers every size not one size fits all and you have to select those parts that fit just you. I have always been a rule follower not breaker and the desperation of no sleep made me do every single thing the prof said. But a little down the line and you can find people who adapt the programme for what works for them. I read of one person who didnt do the qhr but over half an hour as that worked for her… etc etc. For me I have chucked out the progressive muscle relaxation as it no way helped my restless legs syndrome. I have battled with meds… gradually.. over a long time quit those… then got into too much alcohol… battled and won that one and then I'm now reducing caffeine etc.. each one over several weeks to re establish sleep routine. If something doesnt work easily get rid , though I might suggest a light filter on your phone. I still get up and watch silly tv for half an hour in the middle of the night as reading sewing etc just isnt me. I tried them. I'm picking one change at a time seeing its impact and expect this to be a marathon rather than a sprint which is disappointing in one way since early progress made me think I had cracked it too soon and i paid the price. We do get membership for a full year.The core premise in all of this … for me… is the sleep window. No where near as much sleep as i used to have in little bits but i can function on 5 hours. I'm no expert and I am trying to be encouraging. Hope this comes across that way.only you are in control. Find your way through this picking the tools that suit you. Give them a good try out and modify where you need to. Hang on in there.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi sleeper1, I totally understand how you are feeling. It makes sense. I find myself in a similar boat. My sleep efficiency is high but my sleep quality remains stubbornly low. I think part of the issue is that, like most CBT, if done correctly, there are improvements during the intensive 6-week program period, but to really continue improving sleep and making the change permanent, it suspect we have to keep working on it after the program is over to continue working all of the tools and strategies, and that can be extremely challenging.

    For me, though I have consistently reached 90% sleep efficiency, I still pretty much never sleep through the night. As Sleepio suggests, part of this is just age. But I think part of it is also stress/anxiety and Sleepio offers a large number of tools for combatting that. They just take a lot of discipline and commitment. For example, I find that exercise made a big difference when I was doing it consistently, though being consistent about getting a great work-out 2-3 times a week (and a little exercise in the morning every day, too) takes a lot of work.

    I find that the 1.5 hour wind-down routine is even harder to maintain. Doing essentially nothing but passive activities for 90 minutes before bed is incredibly difficult because of my other responsibilities — I typically have things that I need to take care of on behalf of the family —bills to pay, household chores to complete, work to do, reading, politics, etc.—during that time. Ignoring those things has real consequences.

    I do not know whether I will be able to ultimately improve my sleep quality without reducing the active thinking I do in the evening and exercising consistently. But it seems like the right next step to attempt it. If it doesn’t work, then let’s discuss.

    - sleepyben

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hello Old Jilly
    Your post really helped me to rethink my sleep window. I do not have restorative sleep and in spite of restricting my sleep window, I still wake up early feeling tired and/or experience multiple wakings (actually I find this a bit of a challenge to record in my sleep diary). I'm currently in bed 23.00 – 06.00. I find it hard to keep awake in the evening. I think I might have a go at waking earlier and going to bed earlier to see if that suits me better.
    Wolla

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello everyone!

    What brought me into Sleepio was being able to sleep but not feeling refreshed. I had a sleep study which ruled out sleep apnea and periodic limb movement disorder. Over the course of the past six weeks, I've reduced my nighttime awakenings, but I'm still struggling with feeling tired. I've learned that tiredness is not the same as sleepiness. So how should I be gauging my sleep quality?

    Over the years of struggling with nonrefreshing sleep, I've come to obsess over my sleep posture and alignment. I'm a side sleeper. Most recently, my obsession took the form of buying a new pillow every three to six months. I would temporarily wake up feeling better refreshed, and my shoulders and neck would be less stiff, then the cycle would begin again. Does anyone know the average life cycle of a pillow? Perhaps buying a new pillow every few months is to be expected? Or is the boost in sleep quality a placebo effect?

    The sleep doctor who talked over the results of my sleep study with me recommended using a U-shaped travel pillow to support my neck while sleeping, and noting that a very straight military posture while sleeping on your side is not actually the best. He said my neck should be supported and my head should dip a bit. I've found that helpful. I've on my own been experimenting with using a body pillow between my legs and against my torso to keep from twisting overnight as I'd been doing, and my shoulders and neck have generally felt more relaxed.

    I struggle with the balance between thinking too hard about sleep and attending to what needs attending. Anyone else struggle with this? Thanks in advance!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 4

    hey, i don't have negative thoughts, i am not tired durring the day. I sleep lite. Many times conscious of my dreams as they happen. I know when the cat walks across the room. Sometimes hard to tell a daydream from sleep at night. Sometimes i can control my dreams. I dream in color. I have many dreams in a night. Rarely truly restful. I meditate. Any one out there a lite sleeper?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 4

    I am on week 3 and feel exhausted. I haven't yet had a proper sleep and am starting to wonder if this actually works. My own times are to go to sleep at 11pm and wake up at 5am. I feel a little worried to start this, will it work in the long run? I am unable to feel sleepy and have been like this for a while, I don't feel the need to nap either!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I'm assuming that others have, but has anyone else been diagnosed or deal with non-restorative insomnia? I just started Sleepio & am a bit skeptical about how it will actually help me. I'm not a huge fan of CBT to begin with. I typically have no issue getting to sleep & can sleep for 7-10 hours easily. But I still wake up every day unrefreshed, feeling like I got very little sleep. So I know the quality of my sleep is poor but no sleep doctor has ever been able to give me any answers except suggest this kind of a program. It's frustrating. I want to not have to depend on caffeine to get me thru the day. I'm incredibly healthy otherwise & work out regularly so should sleep great & wake up feeling amazing but sadly, I do not. Has anyone else had similar issues & actually had success with this program?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 1

    Hi

    I'm a respiratory and sleep physician (in Australia). Have you had a sleep study to determine whether you have obstructive sleep apnoea.

    If you have a high probability of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnoea then you can have a home based (level 2) sleep study or if not then an in-lab sleep study should be considered.

    See your GP

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi FBSJnr1,

    I have a very low probability that it could be obstructive sleep apnea & when I went to a sleep physician back in 2015, they would not do a sleep study on me, just said it was non-restorative insomnia & to do the Sleepio program. Nor could I have even afforded a sleep study here in the U.S. as I believe they are thousands of dollars & not covered by any insurance that I know of. Either way, I am attempting this program, just not sure it's going to change much as it hasn't yet. Thanks for your response.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    I’m in the US, in Connecticut. I had a home sleep study, which was covered by insurance, and my provider said this was typical. This was in 2017. They also told me that most insurance will not pay for a sleep study at a center until a home study is done first. The provider called my insurance to verify coverage.

    My sleep issues are different than yours, so I’m afraid I can’t be much help. My only thought is you could try recording yourself overnight with SnoreLab. It is a subscription App, but you can try the free version first, and it’s less than $10 for three months.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Nicolacat,
    Thanks for your reply. That's interesting..maybe things have changed as far as insurance but I still have a high deductible health plan so regardless I'd have to pay my high deductible first so it would still be a lot of money for me out-of-pocket. I'm not that familiar with home studies, possibly something to look into. Thanks for the info on the app, may look into that as well. Waking up every day after “sleeping” for 8+ hours & still feeling tired sure is frustrating to deal with.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi all,
    I'm posting my experience partly to vent and partly to register one more data point.

    I am entering week 5 of the program. I don't usually have trouble falling asleep, but I wake up often in the night (5-8 times), for maybe just a minute or two. I don't feel anxious or have worrying thoughts; I just let myself fall asleep again. But I wake up feeling very tired, and feel sleepy all through the day, especially in the afternoon. I don't seem to have sleep apnea and I don't snore.

    I don't feel like the course helped at all. I feel like the bits about having a comfortable bedroom and healthy lifestyle advice are the most helpful for people like me. But in my case, I already tried those things. Sleep Restriction did not help with my wakings up, it just reduced my total sleep, so I feel more tired. Luckily, my Sleep Efficiency has always been above 90%, so I should recover my original bedtimes in a couple more weeks.

    I'm a bit disappointed. Sleepio was probably the right thing to try, sadly it did not work. I will be moving on to looking for ways to manage tiredness and lack of focus during the day.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Daniello,
    Interesting to hear your experience.

    There are two things I can think of.
    The first – you will have heard many times on Sleepio – is that change takes time – not just the 5 weeks of the course. Sleep Restriction usually starts by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep – something you don't have trouble with – and then moves on to the awakenings and early waking. Maybe that will happen for you.

    The second point is – change has to come from you too and that is something we are hugely resistant to. Most people come to Sleepio desperate for sleep having tried many many different approaches and knowing all about sleep hygiene etc (me included) and then when it doesn't work immediately (i.e. in three weeks as the first 2 weeks don't count – did that all already!) they get despondent and fearful – “yet another approach hasn't worked – it must be the programme isn't suited to my very specific sleep issue” and they then look to find another programme. Of course it may be another programme immediately clicks with you, in which case that's great – let us know what it is!

    I used to be tired all the time – couldn't fall asleep, woke up many times in the night and didn't get back to sleep for ages . A change in attitude in me has meant that now I still don't sleep very much in total but it doesn't bother me in the same way – I don't obsess about how tired I am all day and I do actually feel less tired. I get out for a walk every morning before work – a great new habit. I've come to understand I need less sleep however unfair that initially felt. Also I have come to understand over the last 10 months that I am the only person who can get me to sleep – sounds ridiculous when I say it out loud – but there you go! I have had to work really hard to get to this point, to question myself and my beliefs but it has really been worth it.
    Hope this helps
    Jarabia:)

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi Jarabia,
    Thank you for your reply and your interest.

    I am glad to know that you now feel much better about your lack of sleep. You sound like you have come to a better understanding of yourself and your sleep habits, and you sound satisfied and happy with how the program has worked for you :)

    I think yours is a good example that Sleepio can be very helpful for many people. From what I have seen, Sleepio focuses mostly on restoring broken sleep patterns, and countering negative thoughts on sleep, both issues you mention you suffered in your post. It really helps most of the people who try it (and it's great that it's based on scientific evidence!).

    In my case, Sleep Restriction will last for 4 weeks only. This is because, once per week, Sleepio allows you to increase by 15 minutes the time you can spend in bed (if you have a Sleep Efficiency above 90%). This means that after 4 weeks, I will be back to my usual bedtime routine. So if I haven't seen results in the almost 3 weeks since I started SR, and it is only one more week left before returning to normal, I think it is pretty safe to assume that this course of treatment did not help.

    I am ok with that. As I said, it was the right thing to try, and I am of course still committed to finishing the course. I think it is good to record my experience here, because I think that Team Sleepio is interested in gathering more info on the variety of sleep issues that people have, and keep building on their program to help more and more people :)

    Best,
    Daniello

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