Lab Assignment #4

Problem: Insomnia; generally erratic sleep patterns

Hypothesis: Maintaining a strict routine (going to bed and getting out of bed at the same time each day) may help this problem

Note: I realize that for many people this one is a big DUH. But I have never been good about maintaining a sleep routine. I have always either worked or read at night until I absolutely keeled over with exhaustion OR tossed and turned in bed until I became frustrated and got back up again to read. This situation dates back to mid-childhood, around the age of 10 or 12, but when I was healthy and had more energy in general I could deal with it. In the last few years, insomnia and poor sleep management have been huge problems and are a large part of the reason I am on medical leave – and the situation has not gotten any better since my leave began.

Additional complicating variable: So far, acupuncture has made my sleep problems somewhat worse. I come home from acupuncture extremely tired, and I generally can’t help falling right to sleep – leading to insomnia later.

Procedure:

1)      Set the alarm for 7:00 each morning and get out of bed shortly after this time.

2)      Every night, take my Norflex at precisely 8:00 pm and have a cup of chamomile tea at 9:00 pm. Go to bed by 9:30. Read if desired until 10:30. Turn out the light as desired between 9:30 and 10:30. If I have trouble falling asleep, I will remain relaxed in bed instead of getting back up.

3)      As of right now, I will not forbid myself to take naps; however, I won’t change the above routine if I take a nap, and I will write down the details of all naps.

4)      Keep records of how this sleep routine works for two weeks; re-evaluate at that time.

Data:

Friday, 2/17, 4:45 pm: Took a very deep, satisfying nap from 2:30-4:15. Starting this particular lab assignment on an acupuncture day might have been a mistake… but we’ll see.

Saturday, 2/18, 8:10 am: This experiment did not go well at all last night. I took the Norflex and drank the herbal tea on schedule, and I read in bed until a little bit past 10:30 and then turned out the light. As soon as I was lying down, my neck hurt and I couldn’t find a comfortable position. It always feels as if the tendons in my neck are “ripping” when I’m lying down. I put up with it until about 12:15 and then got up to read for a while longer. I think I ended up falling asleep around 2. Then when the alarm went off at 7, I hit snooze until 8. So in other words, it was an entirely typical night for me. I’ll try again tonight…

Sunday, 2/19, 7:10 am: Followed the procedure to the letter last night and slept well (OK, maybe not to the letter – I had a terrible headache, so I also took some Tylenol PM for a little extra assistance sleeping). We’ll see how things go today and tonight.

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2 Responses to Lab Assignment #4

  1. Mary says:

    John bought “The Insomnia Workbook” which is full of such “DUH!” tips as you’ve outlined here, but the sum total of them really helped him get his sleeping back on track. He is now a complete convert to the wonders of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

    • lfpbe says:

      Mary,

      I really, really, really loathe “workbooks.” My home when I was growing up was absolutely littered with the anxiety and phobia workbook, the depression workbook, the overcoming trauma workbook. They were like my siblings. I understand why my mom really needed these resources, but I absolutely refuse to allow them in my house. These “lab assignments” that I’m setting up for myself are, if anything, my acknowledgement that cognitive behavior therapy works but that, for my own sense of self, I have to be the one to set the assignments.

      B

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