Helpful external resources to use alongside Sleepio

Hi all members,

Here is a list of resources that many of us have used and have found to really complement Sleepio. Please add your own suggestions to this discussion. Thanks!

Posted 8 Nov 2013 at 2:18 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Thank you . Ewa

  • Sleepio Member

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    That is it where can I find it? Ewa

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    I got my Sleep Eraser from Amazon. There may be other places to get it, but Amazon's service is pretty reliable, so I would try them first.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Anyone tried Silva method? Or acupuncture or hypnotherapy together with Sleepio?

  • Sleepio Member

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    I also have found the mindfulness meditation very helpful – and used the excellent book/cd pack mentioned earlier by Williams and Penman.
    For anyone who has aches and pains that keep them awake – I got a memory foam mattress topper (it sits on top of the normal mattress) and it almost completely abolished the discomfort I used to get in my hips. The only drawback of it is that it does tend to make you hot – there is a special cover you can get for them called a 'space blanket' that counteracts this to some extent. For me its not a problem – I just use a thinner duvet but anyone who suffers from night sweats might find it hard to cope.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi, does anyone know where is the place or website to get brainwave entertainment from?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi Lou Lou,
    I have just seen your question about brainwave entrainment on this discussion so I hope you have had a reply before now from elsewhere. My personal experience is that it's not worth bothering with. I tried it years ago and it did nothing for me. A couple people posting on the sleepio site have said it helped them, but within a fairly short time it seems to have stopped helping so it's obviously not the magic bullet some folks hoped for. I came to the conclusion a while back that there isn't an easy or instant solution to insomnia, mainly because what we call insomnia isn't just one thing. It's usually a complex mixture of symptoms, so any approach to help has to have several strands. That's where the sleepio programme wins out as it doesn't rely on just one trick; there are loads of different tools, some of which may not be relevant to you, but somewhere in the toolbox there will be something that will help. Stick with it and trust it. I have been amazed, after over 20 years of bad sleep, how much it's helped me.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Yoga changed my life for the better about 10 years ago. I honestly do not think I would cope without it, I now feel a much calmer, more balanced individual….even if I don't sleep!

  • Sleepio Member

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch? Here is a link posted by FredHK. It is a BBC clip which provides a good introduction to mindulfness meditation.
    anniem

  • Sleepio Member

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    I've been doing the headspace mindfullness meditation program and agree with Angie that it's fantastic. I do it once and sometimes twice daily it's really helped me wind down and get control of my busy mind and body. It has a great iPhone app so you can easily use it any time or any place. I can't recommend headspace highly enough!
    RichardB

  • Sleepio Member

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    I've found Jon Kabat-Zinn's books to be tremendously useful (once I actually applied them – I've had them for years!). His CD packs have many different meditations on them – his body scan version is good but I drowse off during it (I wish I had that problem all night long!). I've been using his “Mindful Yoga 1” CD for the past 6 weeks. A yoga instructor gave me something very similar but since it was self-directed I'd do it way too fast and finish in 10 minutes. The directed MP3 forces me to slow, relax and spend about 40 minutes on it. It's definitely helped me with some muscle aches and pains that were making meditation difficult to do.

    His “Lake Meditation” is very thought-provoking for me. The idea of keeping yourself centred and calm like the bottom of a lake while the surface is raging above you is something I'm striving to add to my life (I'm typically more on the top of the lake being tossed around by the waves).

  • Sleepio Member

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    “The Sleep Book” by Guy Meadows takes a different psychological angle on insomnia and I think works great when combined with sleep restriction.

    If you just google around “Buddhism” and “dealing with disturbing emotions” you should be able to find a wealth of info there too.

  • Sleepio Member

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    I too use the headspace app. I started with the free 10 day programme but now subscribe. When subscribing there is a programme that promotes healthy sleep that you listen to at any time in the day – it does not send you to sleep (well shouldn't but I have been known to use it at night and fall asleep). They also have a routine to use in bed to get to sleep and I do not know yet how it ends – I fall asleep before the end every night. Andy's voice is very easy to listen to and very relaxing. I have tried other mindfulness programmes but the voices have not been easy to listen to.

  • Sleepio Member

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    My brother in law (who recommended Sleepio to me) asked me to post this recommendation on Trauma Release Exercise (TRE):
    “I did Sleepio some time ago and found it very helpful. It gave me so many tools to manage my insomnia. My whole relationship to sleep changed and I became much more relaxed. Unfortunately I still had insomnia though. Recently I have been doing Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). For some people the word trauma sounds quite dramatic so you could substitute stress or simply overwhelm if that sounds better. Anyway, after 4 months of doing the exercises three times a week and the main tremoring/shaking exercise for no more than 20 mins (whole session takes about 45 mins) I am insomnia free after being plagued for 25 years. Not just that but the quality of my sleep is completely different. Other things have happened too such as a constant non-specific anxiety has gone and a greater sense of well being taken its place. The exercises work to switch off the fight and flight mechanism in our reptilian brain and over time allow it to work as it should rather than be permanently stuck in overdrive. Most of us who have suffered from insomnia know the tired but wired feeling. Well TRE addresses this. As I said it takes about 4-6 months to really bed in, but I felt improvements from day one and slowly the results would last longer and longer until now they are permanent. David Berecelli is the man who stumbled upon it with his work in war torn areas such as Israel and Palestine and has used it to help many people with PTSD. There is a book that explains it all – google his name, but I would recommend being shown once by an experienced provider. Once you have been shown once you can easily do it yourself. Two other resources you might find helpful to go with this are: a book by the forerunner of trauma/stress release, Peter Levine, called Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for restoring the Wisdom of you body; and another book, in cartoon style but really helpful in its simplicity is Trauma is Really Strange by Steve Haines. Again, dont be put of by the word trauma – trauma simply means overwhelm which most of us with insomnia are. Once the system is overwhelmed the reptilian brain gets stuck in a cycle that is endless. Exercises like TRE and those found in the two books help to break the cycle permanently and bring a natural calm and healing in the body.”

  • Sleepio Member

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    I got this (below) in my inbox today from Positive News and found the website (google Action for Happiness) effectively a CBT resource plus relationship – an international community, with local groups and some places running courses. Really worth a look and much of it donations/ what you can afford only.

    “Choosing happiness

    As happiness organisations emerge from being unGoogle-able to forming an international movement, critics have dismissed their ability to deliver true contentment. But the continually expanding Action for Happiness has other ideas, and even His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a fan, writes John-Paul Flintoff”

    And just want to acknowledge your post ekeller, looks really useful.

    I have not been using the site for some time and must apologise to anyone who has messaged me as I haven;t had the alerts come to my inbox – Happy New Year Trevor!

    Best wishes all

  • Sleepio Member

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    I found this book to be very helpful and informative: “Say Goodnight To Insomnia” by Gregg D. Jacobs, PHD. It is compatible with sleepio but I think it goes a little deeper into more techniques on cognitive behavioral therapy giving more empowering tools to actually overcome insomnia.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 3

    Hopefully I'm not rambling too much here, but this is how I fixed my chronic insomnia. I hope it helps someone :) There is lots I haven't mentioned here, so please feel free to ask questions.

    My chronic insomnia started overnight after a heart related issue. I was having ectopic beats every few seconds and that was physically keeping me awake. I saw my doctor, was told to stop all of my supplements and had to wait 5 weeks to see a cardiologist.

    I had to take a whole zopiclone tablet to sleep, although I hate taking addictive drugs and so some nights I did not take zopiclone and I had no sleep. I tried other sleep remedies but nothing worked and some made things worse. Valerian even stopped the zopiclone working!

    My research indicated taking a standard dose of magnesium is never an issue with heart issues and often helps ectopics. After 14 days of ectopics every few seconds, I decided to take a magnesium supplement and within 5 hours the ectopics had mostly disappeared.

    My full cardio check a few weeks later showed I actually had very good heart health and it was likely an electrolyte issue due to exercise together with an adrenalin surge that caused the original problem. Once the problem started, the lack of sleep with an increase in stress kept the ectopics going. The cardiologist said the ectopics were benign and that taking the magnesium was a good idea & to keep taking it.

    Despite the stress of the original problem now being gone, the insomnia persisted and I had totally lost the ability to onset sleep without the aid of drugs. Literally I never felt sleepy tired, just very fatigued.

    My doctor prescribed 30 lorazepams. I never took any and never spoke with that doctor again. I found another doctor who had a more responsible attitude towards such horribly addictive drugs.

    My new doctor prescribed melatonin (Circadin) and for a while that did help as long as I got to sleep within 2 or 3 hours after taking it. If I didn't fall sleep within that time, it would not work after that.

    I discovered Sleepio and did everything it told me to. There was no improvement in sleep but I knew it would take time.

    Every few nights I would have to catch up on sleep using only half a zopiclone and other nights I would sleep maybe 2 or 3 hours in the early morning, probably from fatigue. Whilst using Sleepio, sometimes melatonin helped, other nights it did not and I would not sleep at all. I never had that sleepy feeling except when I took melatonin.

    When I got to the Sleep Restriction stage, I was sleeping well below the minimum time for SR to be effective. I still followed the suggested SR times but I literally did not sleep at all. I have been a night owl for many years and would regularly go to bed around 2am after working and/or watching YouTube, go straight to sleep for 7 hours then wake up at 9am (I work from home). If I went to sleep at 1am I would wake up at 8am, so my body clock consistently expected 7 hours. Going to bed later with SR wasn't the problem; it was my inability to onset sleep.

    On the non-SR nights I started having paradoxical effects with melatonin where it would it appeared to actively keep me awake and I had to stop using it.

    A few weeks after that I found advice that said if you have chronic insomnia and are not getting enough sleep on most/all nights of the week, CBT-i may not be a good choice and you should first seek medical advice. Without zopiclone I was sleeping 2 or 3 (or less) hours a night every night of the week. I never dozed during the day and never felt sleepy. Maybe that is why CBT-i wasn't helping. I hadn't been taking zopiclone enough to be either addicted or have withdrawal symptoms.

    I didn't have depression and I only had anxiety if I did not sleep. If I slept using zopiclone, the anxiety went away. I was taking zopiclone only every few days to reduce chances of dependency and that meant that half a tablet was enough to sleep for around 4 hours, which is actually the terminal half life time for zopiclone.

    I tried acupuncture, from which I learned relaxing meditation. The acupuncture did not help me sleep through the night, but immediately (on the first night) after starting acupuncture I was able to onset sleep by myself again.

    I kept going to acupuncture for a few weeks and only stopped it when I started taking an SSRI (see below) because the SSRI stopped me from being able to relax. Do I recommend acupuncture? Yes, it is worth trying at least for a bit. It helped me make a significant step forward, but it didn't fix me and using longer term would have got very expensive.

    The ability to onset sleep remained, but I could not stay asleep for very long. Over time my fatigue was getting worse and I was less able to function during the day. I had lost 8kg in weight over the first 6 weeks since the ectopics first started.

    Whilst I thought this was all in the mind and I suspected I must have sleep anxiety, it felt like a physical problem and I kept wondering what could be wrong with me. Over the whole of this time I had a feeling that my body/brain was missing something and I was correct…

    My doctor suspected low serotonin. Low serotonin means you will have low melatonin. Often you will have depression/anxiety with low serotonin but I had neither of these symptoms, only the anxiety after not sleeping, so that was a bit unusual.

    She put me on a low dosage SSRI (Sertraline 25mg) to increase my brain serotonin, with the intention of helping me be more functional during the day and a plan for me to only be on that for 4 weeks. That worked in that I was able to exercise again and do my work. I had some side effects which were unpleasant but not too bad, but lost the ability to onset sleep because I was getting the notorious insomnia side effect from the sertraline. It is a strange feeling to have less than 3 hours sleep and yet still be able to exercise and work during the day!

    After 3 weeks most of the SSRI side effects had worn off and I was getting the positive effects, but I still could not onset sleep. The doctor reduced me to 12.5mg (a quarter of the smallest therapeutic dose) and within 3 days I was able to onset sleep again! There is no doubt that even that small dose of SSRI was still helping me stay functional; it is powerful! I could continue exercising most days and from there I began to see small sleep improvements over most subsequent nights for around a week and I began sleeping a bit. If I didn't exercise, I didn't sleep so well.

    Would I recommend you try an SSRI? For me it helped significantly, but overall I wasn't happy taking it I hate drugs. It did have side effects, made insomnia worse for a while and I was concerned about withdrawal. I would have been happy staying on the 12.5mg for a while longer. With my discovery below, possibly the SSRI wasn't required.

    So the next question is; why did I have low serotonin? Exercise helped, the SSRI helped, I had seen an improvement with the onset of sleep even before taking the SSRI.

    The answer is: leaky gut.

    Whilst my diet would be considered good by any nutritionist and the SSRI gave me a stronger appetite, over this time I had more wind that usual. I thought it was the SSRI giving me wind as known a side effect, but probably it was not. It was my improved appetite and much increased eating. I did not have loose bowels or most of the symptoms of leaky gut, but I still wondered if I had leaky gut and research indicated that it can be caused by stress & lack of sleep. Not only that, but leaky gut can itself cause insomnia, so that's a vicious cycle.

    Maybe my gut microbiome had become unbalanced during the first 14 days because I wasn't eating very much for a few weeks due to total loss of appetite and maybe the extreme stress from the ectopics further affected that. Most of the serotonin is produced in the gut, so that would explain the low serotonin.

    I stopped taking the sertraline. From that small dose I did not have to taper, I just stopped it one day and did not have any apparent withdrawal symptoms, although sleep got worse after a few days (sertraline half life?) and then become better after a few more days.

    I started taking a turmeric extract with BioPrene which has a variety of benefits including possibly increasing serotonin, L-Glutamine for gut protection/repair plus muscle recovery from my exercise, mostly gluten free and eating foods that can help rebalance the gut microbiome. That includes two apples a day which acts as a fibre and prebiotic.

    I already didn't eat much dairy and only use lactose free milk, plus have been taking a probiotic. Also no added sugar. I still eat foods with some sugar in them, but don't eat confectionery, cakes, baked or processed foods. I do eat a reasonable amount of good fats; cutting out the fat is not necessarily good but absolutely zero trans fats.

    Most days I exercise and I'm unsure how important that is to leaky gut or serotonin production, but it does appear to have helped with improving sleep, particularly in the earlier days of recovery. In the earlier days a rest day meant less sleep. I can now have rest days and still get to sleep the same as if I had exercised.

    My sleep has continued to improve in small ways every night, even though I'm still on the early stages of gut repair; the results have been remarkable. I am now at around 90% sleep efficiency, wake up maybe 3 times during the night and get back to sleep every time. I rarely have to use relaxing meditation any more and I'm much closer to my normal self where I used to roll over and go to sleep.

    I last used Sleepio on 30-Jun at which time my sleep efficiency without zopiclone/melatonin was consistently less than 40% and with zopiclone/melatonin was up to 80%.

    I still wake up early hours every night, previously between 2am and 3am but now moving closer to 4am, then I get back to sleep very quickly. If I wake up after 5am then I take longer to get back to sleep, but previously if I woke up after 5am I would not get back to sleep at all. After 5am I found putting on a comfortable eye mask helps, as it starts getting light around 6am.

    I get traffic outside my bedroom starting at 5am and gets much worse at 6am. Ear plugs help with that but don't fully resolve it. As my sleep has improved, I have become less concerned about the traffic noise and can ignore it more easily. After the acupuncture I did a lot of relaxing meditation whilst listening to the traffic noise, so that has maybe helped desensitise me to it. Because I've now had some reasonable sleep by 5am, I am not overly stressed about not getting more sleep, which means I am able to relax more easily and do get more sleep!

    If you have chronic insomnia please do consider if you have an underlying issue that CBT-i may not help with. Bear in mind that just because you think an issue is 'in your head' it does not mean it is not a physical issue. Your brain is driven by chemicals/hormones and they can become misbalanced by physical issues. Your brain can cause those misbalances and those misbalances can also affect your brain; that vicious cycle.

    You might have a gut microbiome issue, vitamin deficiency, or hormone misbalance, which can be possibly be determined using various tests (blood/spit/bowel motion) and it is possible to correct many conditions using non-drug methods.

    If your diet is really bad with lots of processed/junk food then you might find bigger changes are required and it will be more difficult for you, but please don't underestimate the difference that a diet change and some exercise can make to chronic insomnia. If you do not have an appetite, prepare a good diet plan that will give you the best nutrients without eaating much and eat to a schedule. That is why I did in the earlier days.

    In hindsight I suspect I could have resolved my chronic insomnia using just a few dietary changes but I didn't have that knowledge back then and it took some research to join the pieces of information and make some sense of what was happening with me.

    Knowing it was not 'just in my mind' would have saved a lot of wasted time trying things that had no hope of working.

    Side notes:

    I read a physical book in bed using a red head lamp light to relax for sleep. I've been doing that for around 8 weeks and am now at the stage where I can go to bed not feeling tired, read for 15 to 30 minutes and that sleepy feeling always kicks in to the extent that I cannot read any more! Unfortunately it now takes me longer to read books :)

    If I wake up, I do not get out of bed but instead use the relaxing meditation that I learnt during acupuncture. It is winter here and has been very cold. Going to another room if I could not sleep was in itself disruptive and stressful. The relaxing meditation whilst staying in bed was much more effective and also gave rest when I could not sleep. Sometimes I even fell asleep during the meditation. However, I haven't had to do that for nearly 2 weeks as I now fall asleep so much more quickly.

    I'm by no means saying that sleep hygiene is a bad idea, but for people with chronic insomnia it is possible that some aspects of sleep hygiene do not help and in my case I've no doubt made things worse. I do follow most of the recommendations for sleep hygiene, in particular relating to watching screens late at light, keeping the lights low and having a sleep/wake time schedule. I used an alarm for a while, but I now wake up at 7:30am every morning without using an alarm.

    I'm not saying Sleepio / CBT-i are in any way bad as I know that it can really help people, but for me I now realise it was the wrong choice at that time as I was fighting an uphill battle which I was losing.

    I might find after my gut health has improved that returning to CBT-i could be effective for further improvements but I feel I'm getting close to normal just by fixing my gut health and that improvement has been over just a few weeks.

  • Sleepio Member

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    I have been using ASMR videos on YouTube to relax me before bed time and also when I wake up during the night--they get me back to sleep quickly. We all have different triggers for ASMR so if you try this it may require a little experimenting. Especially helpful to me are the Bob Ross painting videos but there are many others that are very pleasant.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I’ve found one of the most effective aids for really helping me fall asleep is audiobooks. Just listen to the book and you will probably fall asleep and next day won’t have a clue what the book was about. Combine this with the Sleepio course and it definitely works.

  • Sleepio Member

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    I use the 10% Happier app for meditation.

    Among the meditations are several to help you get to sleep, and I've found them very helpful – I often don't hear the end of the meditation because I'm asleep.

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