Sleep glorious sleep

Ah, sleep. We climb into bed after a busy day and gently drift off for our eight hours’ shuteye. If only.

Woman blissfully sleepingFor the past three years, I’ve been struggling to sleep, so when Henpicked’s Deborah asked if I’d be interested in attending a trial sleep therapy workshop, I jumped at the chance.

I must confess I wasn’t going with the expectation of it being a miracle cure, but when you’ve been coping with not enough sleep for a long time you’ll give anything a go!

So when the time came, I joined seven others for insomnia specialist Kathryn Pinkham’s sleep workshop. We had a fun three hours learning all about the science behind what makes for good sleep and analysing our own sleep patterns (having been asked to keep a sleep diary for the week before the workshop). Kathryn then set us up with some ‘new ways of sleeping’ for the next few weeks.

Armed with my plan of action I went home, encouraged by what I had heard during the afternoon, and hopeful I would be able to crack my sleep patterns.

For me, insomnia wasn’t about not being able to fall asleep when I went to bed, but waking up in the night and not being able to get back to sleep for hours, then falling asleep again just before the alarm. We all know how horrible that feels.

My weary body had got used to getting just five and a half hours’ broken sleep a night. And step one of Kathryn’s advice was only to be in bed for the amount of time we’re asleep – which meant I could only go to bed five and a half hours before I needed to get up.

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Staying awake: the hardest part

Believe me, staying up until the wee hours when you’re used to going to bed at 11pm is hard – very hard. But the encouragement of all the others who had attended the workshop helped hugely – as we were all awake into the small hours exchanging emails on tips for staying awake. Not what I’d expected from a sleep workshop!

Women with insomnia looking very unhappyKathryn had also given us lots of ‘rules’ to abide by – no phones in bed, no snoozing when the alarm went off – all things that took some getting used to, but I knew that if it wasn’t going to work I didn’t want it to be because I hadn’t done everything right.

So I stuck to all the rules… and there were times when that really wasn’t easy.

The first couple of nights were tough, but I was genuinely heartened by the third night when I actually got five hours of uninterrupted sleep, and then another night, and then another.

I knew that if I could keep it going for a bit longer I’d be allowed to bring my bedtime forward by 15 minutes – given that I was finding staying awake in the evenings really hard I was looking forward to that. Kathryn was on hand throughout if I needed advice and she checked in on how we were all doing.

And so the regime continued until after about eight weeks I found myself going to bed at 11.30pm and getting around six and a half hours’ sleep… blissfully uninterrupted.

This has continued, and at the weekends although I still wake early I’m able to turn over, go straight back to sleep and have been known to get eight or nine hours’ sleep.

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I feel so much better in myself and I don’t fear going to bed thinking I’m going to wake up. What’s also great is that when I’ve got things on my mind which means I wake up in the night, I now find it much easier to go straight back to sleep and I’m confident I can manage it myself.

I can’t thank Kathryn enough – I know some of it was being willing to listen to the advice and stick it through the first few weeks, being really disciplined with myself.

But without the workshop I know I would still be struggling with my sleep patterns. I learnt loads and am so pleased that I’ve been able to put it into practice successfully.

More information:

To book a place on the next sleep workshop on the 9th May 2015 click here. Places are very limited so please book fast.

What keeps you awake at night?

About Nicky Hill

I've taken a while to find what really makes me happy, and family and friends have played a huge part in that. Love my job in HR for the NHS because it feels like I'm making a real difference to others.