I’ve sort of mentioned it before, but last autumn I did a Sleep CBT course.
My sleep has been a mess for years, really. I’d wake up really early, regardless of what time I’d been to bed, so I’d end up not getting enough sleep. All the advice about things you should do before bed never made any difference – but then I also had no trouble getting to sleep as soon as I went to bed because I was so tired. I realised I had a warped view of what a good night’s sleep was when thinking back to a night when I’d been awake so long I was too hungry to go back to sleep. So as it was getting light (about 5am) I got up and had a bowl of cereal. And then went back to sleep when I went back to bed. The going back to sleep thing is good, but to have got hungry for breakfast I must have been awake for at least an hour before then.
The course involved some interesting maths to say it was six weeks (the week 1 session was at the beginning of week 1, the week 6 session where I was said to have graduated, was at the beginning of week 6). It involved mental techniques and ways to thinking to help you to get (back) to sleep. And set an evening routine that meant I actually watched some telly.
There’s a couple of weeks in the middle that are hard because one of the ways to fix your sleep is to not get enough sleep, so you’re tired enough to sleep. Once you’re used to the idea of sleeping you can increase the amount of sleep you get.
The first night of that was the worst: the night before I’d finally been tired enough to get a good night’s sleep. Then I had to stay up later than usual, so I’d gone through tired enough to sleep and back out, so I couldn’t get to sleep. I was fine the next day until 2:30pm every part of me was so tired I couldn’t move. They do warn you that people find that part of the course tough and they weren’t wrong!
But, it worked. I say this having been awake for more than an hour before I’d usually get up and now I am tired. But that’s not my usual sleep pattern any more. As the course points out, everyone has a bad night’s sleep sometimes. And these days I can often see a reason why I’ve slept badly