Overcoming 20 years of insomnia and nightmares - Chris's Story
Chris’s sleep problem in brief:
+ 20 year history of significant sleep disturbance
+ Very broken sleep
+ Persistent nightmares
+ Using sleeping tablets some nights
+ Low mood
Chris was experiencing a lot of anxiety and fear about sleep. He would get to sleep ok but wake up an hour later and when he fell asleep again he would have nightmares that led to him waking sweating and feeling very anxious. He would often then be awake for the day from 3am. He had tried counselling and hypnotherapy to try to address the nightmares but nothing had helped. He struggled with a lot of physical symptoms due to sleep deprivation and every day started to worry about his sleep from early afternoon.
In his 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 have had trouble with sleeping for years and have tried various treatments with limited success. For the last 18 months the problem has been one of waking up at 3am and not being able to get back to sleep, so an average of 4 to 5 hours sleep a night. Worrying about the situation made it worse as I was producing too much adrenaline which ironically kept me going during the day but as bed time approached then anxiety about sleeping or rather not sleeping kicked in and the vicious circle was complete. My partner suggested that I see a sleep therapist and that’s when I found Emma………….
Describe how things are for you now. What has changed?
I am no longer anxious about going to bed and look forward to it. I am sleeping much better. I don’t sleep continuously through the night but now understand this is normal and that it is the number of cycles that is important rather than uninterrupted sleep.
If you could go back and give yourself a piece of advice or support when you were struggling, what would it be?
To breathe slowly and deeply, remember the advice from Emma, think positive thoughts and stay in control knowing that it is possible to conquer the demons. It is important to be relaxed before going to bed so listening to Emma’s CD works well.
Is there anything you feel Emma could have improved or done differently to give you a better experience of therapy?
Not really, as Emma’s approach – explaining the science and talking things through and challenging my negative thoughts worked well for me.
Are there any other comments you would like to make?
Yes, Emma is very good at her job!! She is very thorough and remembers everything you tell her even weeks later which is very professional and reassuring.
A note from Emma
Chris had been struggling with sleep for such a long time that he had built up a lot of fear and negative expectation around being in bed. Through the sleep education part of the SAFE sleep formula, Chris was able to better understand what was happening to him which took a lot of the fear away and allowed him to break into the negative cycle he was in. He was able to challenge his negative expectations and by retraining the mind and body to sleep, the nightmares significantly reduced.