Thought it was about time for an update on my sleep therapy. I’ve got an appointment at the sleep clinic later this month, but really the only reason I’m keeping it is because I don’t want to go all the way to the back of the queue if problems arise again.
First of all, the truth: I don’t think I’m ever going to get much more than 6 hours of sleep while I’m working. While I’m on holiday – turns out – I can squeeze in 8 hours or so around all the interruptions and roll out of bed somewhere around the time the (official) working day would be starting in term time. But even then, I’m waking up multiple times in the night, and sometimes for an extended period.
On work days, I’m getting up at 6 a.m. Doesn’t quite have to be that early, but I’d rather be at work early and get in an hour or more before the first bell than having to stay after school and do things then. Going home early has always been my jam.
Things that CBT encouraged me to try:
- Stopped reading in bed. This was the big one, because it is/was a lifelong habit, and it was frustrating and weird to stop it. So now, when I read, it’s downstairs, and there’s no reading in bed. I get into bed, turn out the light, and roll over.
- Got a new mattress. Not strictly part of CBT, but certainly about addressing the environment and making it encourage sleep as long as possible. A New mattress was long overdue. I got an Eve, it’s okay. It won’t last long, I don’t think, but we’ll see.
- Cut down on naps. In many ways, the hardest thing to do. The number of times I get in from work and feel like dropping off on the couch for 40 minutes or so! But the truth is, not lately. Getting better sleep at night has made me less tired in the day and I do not need to nap. I did on holiday, but I was also getting better sleep at night.
- Sleep restriction. The most important and most effective part of the therapy. Don’t go to bed early. Starting with midnight, and gradually inching my way back to 11 p.m. means that the time I’m spending in bed is mostly asleep. Probably my optimum time, if I’m honest, is around 11:30 p.m., at which point I sleep through to the alarm at 6. I still wake up multiple times a night, but I don’t remember them. Last night, I woke up about 20 times (according to Fitbit data) for a total of 38 minutes, but because I don’t remember, it doesn’t bother me. It’s not the same as waking up at 4:30 and knowing you won’t get back to sleep.
So here we are. I still sometimes feel that 6 hours isn’t quite enough, but I don’t feel broken and exhausted all day; I have a more positive attitude to sleep, and it doesn’t worry me as much as it did (for years on end, until recently). So CBT, and Sleepio, works for me. Ask your doctor about it.