From desperation to restful nights sleep - Elaine's Story
Elaine’s sleep problem in brief:
+ 2 1/2 years of insomnia
+ No more than a couple of hours sleep a night
+ Some nights no sleep at all
+ Feeling very anxious and depressed
+ Feelings of panic going to bed
Elaine was surviving with very little sleep and her daily life was suffering as a result. She described that she had always been a light sleeper but the problems started when she took on a new responsibility in her life. She even retired earlier than planned because she wasn't getting enough sleep. She was very upset that she was having to sleep in a separate bed to her husband but she found that whatever time she woke up in the night, she would be wide awake. She would feel a strong sense of panic about trying to get back to sleep and this was making her very upset as well as hot and sweaty. She was taking sleeping tablets every night, afraid not to take one but was dreading the night time every day.
In her words…
Describe how things were for you just before you started working with Emma (e.g., how long the problem had been going on for, how much sleep you were getting, how you were feeling).
I contacted Emma one morning in desperation having tried unsuccessfully to help myself with worsening sleeplessness for 2 1/2 years. At this point a typical week would consist of one to two nights of no more than a 5 – 30 min doze, and the remaining nights being between 2 -3 hours maximum. I had finally succumbed to speaking to a doctor as this was all impacting on my daily life so that I didn’t want to go out and meet friends, I had no energy to go to the gym and other daily activities. The doctor suggested my melatonin ( sleep hormone) was low, due to the ageing process, and I was prescribed a melatonin medication, which helped me to sleep but my main problem was actually remaining asleep. Once I awoke, even after 5 minutes, I was wide awake and nothing I did helped me to go back to sleep. The tablet didn’t help at all and I became extremely anxious that there wasn’t a solution. Bedtime began to be a stressful time and panic set in before I went to bed. The nights were tortuous and long. I would go downstairs and busy myself to pass the time when my book was finished. Despite being desperately tired, dozing during the day never happened, unless I was on a train or being driven in a car. I was researching sleep issues and tried magnesium supplements, lavender oils, essential oil sprays, kiwi fruits, each with such enthusiasm and hope, but nothing had an impact. Coffee was out, I pads and crosswords etc were banned in the evening, but none of these things were helping. I had become seriously depressed, couldn’t contemplate going away for a holiday and really looked dreadful. I was craving sweet food without understanding why.
Having asked my doctor if she knew of a sleep clinic, she initially said there wasn’t one in Sheffield. However, to her credit, she then discovered Emma and suggested I contact her.
Thank Heavens. I am so happy that I did. I’m currently on holiday 5 weeks later and I am now in charge of my own sleep patterns, thanks to Emma.
Describe how things are for you now since ending your therapy sessions. What has changed?
I am now getting about 6 hours sleep each night, I go to sleep quickly and tend to remain asleep. If I do wake up to visit the loo, I am able to go back to sleep straight away. This may not seem amazing but it is wonderful for me as I wake up ready to face the day with energy and enthusiasm that I hadn’t experienced for such a long time. I am so grateful every morning when I wake up. I can even doze in the day now too.
If you could go back and give yourself a piece of advice or support when you were struggling, what would it be?
The main piece of advice I would give to myself if I were to go back would be to discover the cause of the sleeplessness and treat that rather than try to adopt sleeplessness remedies. I now realise that I was creating my own problem by habits of a lifetime such as treating bedtime as my time to think over the day’s events and the following day’s events, and consequently allowing Adrenalin to kick in to keep me awake. Emma taught me very simply how to change this habit, ( which I wasn’t convinced would work) , but my goodness, it certainly has done and so quickly that I wouldn’t have believed it had I been told when I first visited her. I have seen her 5 times and I feel equipped to ensure this nightmare never happens again.
Are there any other comments you would like to make?
I was so grateful to Emma when I first contacted her, that she completely understood, I was very tearful and had been unable to talk to many people about the problem as it’s not an illness as such. However, for me it was debilitating and I could foresee no solution. What a difference a few weeks makes. Thank you Emma
A note from Emma
Elaine had spent a lot of time researching sleep remedies and trying lots of things to help her sleep which had had little or no effect. This had left her feeling very desperate and hopeless, as if she must be truly broken because these things weren't helping her. In fact, these remedies were very surface level and not appropriate for the level of the problem - I often liken this to putting a sticking plaster on a broken leg and expecting it to heal. Actually, once Elaine sought help at the appropriate level she was able to quickly change her minds perception of sleep as well as retrain her body to work with her natural circadian rhythm and she got the natural, restful sleep she had been looking for - she quickly forgot about the sleeping tablets all together!