“Mary” had been struggling with insomnia on and off for decades. Now retired, she spent her working years as a night shift nurse. Over the course of her career, sleep deteriorated, and she ended up taking a prescribed sleep aid. Sometimes the sleep medication worked, other times it didn’t, and it left her feeling that sleep was never going to be stable. Her mother also suffered from insomnia, and she didn’t want her final years to be riddled with poor sleep the way her mother’s was. Mary’s lack of sleep was taking a toll on her physical and mental health, and she was desperate for a solution.
Mary’s Journey Begins
That’s when Mary started her journey with Delta Sleep Coaching. Mary started the program apprehensive that CBT-I would help her, but she knew her current way of sleeping was not working well for her. Mary was willing to try anything. Throughout the program Mary learned various techniques for improving her sleep hygiene and addressing the negative thought patterns that were keeping her awake at night. Here are a few things that worked well for Mary.
During the course of her program, only one or two goals were set at any given time. This was done to make sure it wasn’t overwhelming for Mary to make the changes needed to improve her sleep. Her first goals were to go to bed later each night (she was spending nearly 10 hours in bed each day), try and get more sunlight into her daily routine, and when sleep wasn’t happening, to leave the bedroom and focus on relaxation. Mary chose reading as her relaxation activity during the night when sleep wasn’t happening, but she was careful to choose a book she enjoyed but had already read.
Over a few weeks’ time the later bedtime made Mary more tired than normal. This slowly led her to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. If she did wake in the night and wasn’t able to fall back to sleep on her own, she made sure to get out of bed and read her book until she became sleepy again. During the day she worked hard to get more daylight (no direct sun for her due to a previous skin cancer diagnosis), in order to strengthen her circadian rhythm after years of working the night shift. She noticed that increasing her indirect sunlight during the day helped to keep her awake and alert. In the evening if she found herself getting tired before bedtime, she would do some chores around the house to keep her from inadvertently napping until it was time for bed.
Additionally, Mary worked on challenging her negative thoughts and beliefs about sleep. She learned to recognize and reframe thoughts such as “I’ll never be able to sleep well” or “I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow” with more positive and realistic ones. This helped to reduce her anxiety and worry about sleep, which in turn helped her to fall asleep more easily, especially in the middle of the night.
Mary saw remarkable improvements in her sleep
Through consistent practice and adherence to the techniques she learned during the Delta Sleep Coaching Program, Mary saw remarkable improvements in her sleep. She was able to fall asleep faster, and although she still woke up to use the restroom, she was able to fall back to sleep within normal parameters. This led her to wake up feeling refreshed and energized. Her insomnia no longer controlled her life, and she was finally able to enjoy restful and rejuvenating sleep. If a poor night did happen (which is normal even for “good” sleepers), she no longer let the bad night dictate her thoughts or behaviors. She continued with the new routines and techniques she learned, and never had 2 bad nights in a row. Her sleep confidence grew tremendously in just a few short weeks!
Mary’s success story demonstrates the effectiveness of CBT-I in even decades-long insomnia. Through some small changes in her habits and thoughts, Mary was able to turn things around in just a few short weeks. She now feels she has control over her sleep and knows what to do (and what not to do), in order for her sleep to remain healthy and stable.
If you are struggling with your sleep, consider joining the Delta Sleep Coaching program and have an experienced sleep coach guide you through the CBT-I process. With dedication and perseverance, you too can improve your sleep!
“Mary” is a real Delta Sleep Coaching client whose name was changed for privacy purposes