Monday, 18 April 2016

Tackling my Insomnia: the Sleepio programme

I've written before about my sleep problems -it's not unusual for me to be awake for a couple of hours in the middle of the night or ridiculously early in the mornings.  I don't normally have a problem getting to sleep - in fact the opposite is true as I'm often so tired in the evenings that I struggle to keep my eyes open and am prone to napping in front of the TV. It is this which has eventually prompted me to take action - I want to be able to enjoy my evenings more. So I've signed up for Sleepio, an online CBT course which claims to tackle insomnia.

I found out about the Sleepio programme through my reading of a self-help book on insomnia by Colin Espie I borrowed from the library.  He's a Scottish doctor who is an expert on the subject.  The programme is outlined in the book and you can create your own tables to log your sleep and follow the course that way. But the online programme allows you to log your progress via an app, gives you access to an expert you can question weekly and an online community of others with similar problems.  You have to fork out £60 quid for this,  But I suppose the pain of doing this increases commitment  - it's a bit like the Weightwatchers model.

I'm in the third week of the programme now and it's not easy.  For a start, I've had to give up reading in bed, one of the greatest pleasures in life.  And audio books are banned too - recently I've got through the whole of 'David Copperfield' in my nightly wake ups - all 32 hours of it which is a lot of time awake.  I was even looking forward to waking up so I could listen to some more so the habit of being awake at night was getting worse. I can read or listen but it must be downstairs - you have to get up if you are awake for more than 15 minutes.  My sleep diary indicates that I usually sleep just 6 hours of the 8 I usually spend in bed so now my time in bed is restricted to these hours.  My sleep window is 11,30-5,30.  Getting up at 5.30 not so bad now it's light in the mornings but staying awake until 11.30 last night was painful as the previous night I'd had less than 3 hours sleep because I just couldn't settle.  But then last night I slept 6 perfect, undisturbed hours, achieving over 90% sleep efficiency which is the big goal - that's the percentage of time in bed actually spent asleep.

Being up early has allowed me to catch up here again too so it's all good.  Perhaps I'll write a post every morning for a while.  Anyone out there tried sleep restriction? Would like to hear from you if you have.


  1. Glad you are sleeping better. I listened to a radio program the other night, where they were talking about Sleepio, it sounded interesting and one of the few online self help programs that has actually been scientifically validated. Trying to remember the radio program, maybe the Naked Scientists, or BBC4 Inside Health. Probably the latter. Maybe once you have established a good sleep pattern, you can read a few pages in bed again. x

  2. Really interesting post, I have suffered insomnia on and off all my life and for the last 6 years it has been a permanent thing. I will be interested in how you get on. I had not heard of sleepio so will go and check it out.

  3. Hey Doris,
    I have found that I am having more sleepless nights. I've put it down to those dreaded peri-menopausal symptoms. I don't do my worrying at night, and I tend to fall asleep quite quickly. But if I wake or am woken up, then that's it. I tend to get up, make a cup of tea, read. I've even been known to do the ironing. And I've also caught up on my blogs too. Chronic insomnia must be awful, so I'm glad that this approach is having some benefits.
    Leanne xx

  4. I hope it works so that you can get into a good sleep routine, Doris. Since having children I am a much lighter sleeper. My daughter bought me an eye mask as a joke but it actually really helps, particularly now the mornings are lighter earlier. xx