My name is Mary and I am an insomniac.
Oops! That is not a "positive sleep thought" as recommended by cbtforinsomnia.com, an online program for those of us who do not immediately fall asleep at night.
I remember saying to my parents "I can't fall asleep" when I was very young. One of them would crawl in with me and fall asleep right away and I would listen to them snore! I used to have Sunday night insomnia when I was teaching 6th grade--thinking all those kids were sound asleep and I wasn't. And then there was my daughter who was so dear during the day during her first two years and so wakeful at night. That was probably the worst of it but there have been other times of stress and even when there was less stress that I have struggled with sleeplessness for a period of months.
Sleeping pills, both Ambien and OTC, do not help me. They leave me feeling worse in the morning even if I got some sleep.
So when I saw this online program mentioned by a writer in the NYT's Upshot section, I sent for it at a cost of about $40. There is an initial introductory webinar and then five lessons. You can send in a sleep diary for an extra $5 so I signed up for that too. The instructions said to use only numbers, no words and no comments or it won't be analyzed. That tells me that "Dr. Jacobs" is probably a computer. I sent in weeks 1, 3, and 4; week 2 was free of any insomnia at all. I was surprised to get prompt responses that spoke directly to my results.
What are the basic suggestions or tips? There are many but here are a few that are relevant to me:
1. You are probably sleeping more than you think.
2. A bad night does not mean you will not function the next day. It may affect your mood. Try to remember the times you didn't sleep because of good reasons like a party.
3. Settle on a wake-up time and stick with it.
4. Figure your average hours of sleep and don't go to bed more than 30 minutes before that time subtracted from your wake-up time. In other words, make sure you are not lying awake in bed for hours.
5. Don't nap after 3 pm; however, earlier and short naps are natural and good.
6. Don't think that there is something wrong with you--there are plenty of folks who don't sleep well.
7. Chronic insomnia is a learned response to temporary insomnia.
Suggestions that don't help me:
1. Don't look at the clock. However if I look at the clock, it reminds me that I may have already dozed some and that is good.
2. Get up out of bed and read or do something else. I have tried this but I yawn and yawn through my reading and then lay awake when I close the book.
3. Make myself stay up until midnight (number 4 above). When I am really sleepy, I want to go to bed.
. I am tired of trying to think positive thoughts when I am just plain tired. I worry about making plans for tomorrow or next week if I don't know if I will have the energy to carry them out.
What have I learned? I am learning to seize the moment. If it's a good night and a good day, I try to enjoy it to the fullest. And that's not a bad lesson in life anyway.
And really, there are far more good nights and days than bad--so that is progress for which I am grateful.