Take these home

  1. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Give yourself a break. You are doing so well. Results are not instant. Have you really taken that in? This is a lifestyle change – stop looking for results in a couple nights and just let go for a while. Follow the rules with precision (as much as possible) and then just get on with your day, regardless of what happens in the night. Have faith in the process. Let the body do what it needs to do without you looming over it telling it what it ‘should’ be doing, giving it performance anxiety! Could you work in such conditions if your teachers were shouting and screaming over you? Your body needs to reset. So, for a while, it won’t like the changes and it will make you sleepier and more uncomfortable. Let this happen. And then you start to see long-term hard work pay off (long-term, not short-term!).
  2. Properly digest the information you have learnt.These anxieties you are having are not based in fact, but belief – if you are still having them, that means you haven’t truly taken in the first session’s beliefs section. Go back, re-read, and challenge your existing thoughts about sleep. Why are you so anxious when you go to bed? You have been dealing with this for so long, and yet despite it making you feel not great, you are succeeding! You’re coping very well, but you are telling yourself you are not. You are forcing yourself to believe something that just isn’t true. What do you think is going to happen? Has that actually happened? I bet not!
  3. Stop blaming your sleep problems for other problems. You have already proved that you can indeed have a life with insomnia. This won’t be forever, but it is time to stop blaming sleep for everything. Have a fresh start; think about all the things you are happy with – all the things that you are proud of yourself for. And you are doing it – you are participating in the treatment. Well done, you! It’s time for praise, not berating yourself or your sleep. You will get through this, but you’re going to have to start challenging your own anxieties- properly. This is hard work. But you can do it!
  4. Stop using the day’s activities as an excuse for not sorting your sleep. “I had an important meeting, so I didn’t want to muck up my sleep any more than I needed to” or, “I had a busy week ahead of me so I thought now might not be the best time to start.” If your sleep before this course was so good that it could get you through these things, then why bother doing the course? Remember that short-term better sleep quality (minus all the anxieties that usually go along with lying in bed not sleeping) is much better for you than your usual routine. Poor sleep can make us feel sad and low, but it is actually those feelings that stop us succeeding in the day. Not bad sleep. If we woke up after a rubbish sleep and thought, “Today is another day, I can get up and have a great one,” then our days would turn out very differently. We would stop cancelling fun things because we think we can’t ‘cope’. I bet the things you most fear from a bad night’s sleep rarely happen. So next time you’re in bed worrying about sleep, just think: Is there anyone I can help, or be kind to? Use the extra time awake to think about things that matter. If your negative thoughts have such a crippling effect on you, then positive ones can make you feel amazing. Turn insomnia on its head!
  5. Stop trying to catch up with sleep. This idea of sleep debt is not quite accurate. Our tendency as a society is to think – I only slept for four hours last night, therefore I need so many hours to catch up with myself. Then you move away from your normal routine by lying in, napping excessively or generally trying to fix it yourself with other often non-evidence based techniques. This is OK if you can’t keep your eyes open – a one-off, short nap for example won’t hurt you, but lying-in bed for hours in the middle of the day instead of waiting until bedtime will not benefit you if you have a history of insomnia. Your body will dictate to you what it needs and when. So next time you think you’re sleep deprived, but you’re not sleepy, you don’t have to do anything! Follow your routine.
  6. There is no fixed bedtime. I know that on the sleep scheduling rules you are sticking to a specific set of instructions. But as we have discussed this isn’t forever, and you now know the steps to slowly change the routine when you can. Wake time is important and having a fixed opportunity to relax and sleep IF YOU NEED IT are important. But that’s just it – if you’re not sleepy at 11pm, don’t force it. No matter how important that meeting is tomorrow. Listen to what your body wants. Shorter periods of better-quality sleep are always better than longer, broken sleep.