Colleen is a psychotherapist who had increasingly struggled with insomnia for years.
Here’s Colleen’s story about what led her to work with Sleepably and how working with a sleep coach for adults helped her to finally achieve better sleep.
Colleen, let’s hear about the insomnia you experienced before working with a sleep coach.
I was always a great sleeper all my life and slept over nine hours all my young life. But I think with perimenopause, I started sleeping less consistently. And so in my mid-forties, I think I just started worrying about sleep some, especially because I was working a lot and homeschooling my three kids and I was very busy, and that kind of put pressure on my ability to sleep.
And so things got worse and worse until I was well into my fifties and just really began to worry about sleep a lot.
And then finally, about two years ago, I had a big crisis with my work and I was so upset by it that I just started ruminating all the time, especially in the middle of the night. And that’s when I really started considering myself an insomniac.
I started kind of dreading going to bed at night.
What specific insomnia challenges were you experiencing during the night?
Sure, I would crash real early. I started leaving myself lots of extra time in bed. So I go to get into bed like 9:30, and then I would wake up in the middle of the night and be up for two or two-plus hours. And then I would often go back to sleep and then wake up again.
So it was just waking up too much in the middle of the night, not being able to go back to sleep, and then sometimes just waking up so early, like 4 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep at all.
How was your insomnia affecting your life in terms of your career and how you wanted to be versus how you actually felt?
I just grew progressively tired and grumpy and kind of irritable. I’ve always been a lifelong exerciser and it kind of zapped my energy for exercise. I would kind of reach for food for energy on the days I was the most tired.
But the worst thing was really my attitude, oh, and of course, it caused a lot of headaches, which I called tired headaches – just a sort of dull achiness.
And now what I realize is that the lack of sleep actually caused a lot of inflammation.
You had tried various sleep aids over the years. Can you talk about your experience with those sleep aids and why you were motivated to leave them behind?
You know, I tried everything. I read every article that I could find on insomnia. And I tried meditating during the day, and I tried yoga, and I tried restorative yoga, and I tried, oh my God, so many things. Melatonin and CBD and THC and Advil and let’s see, what else? Valerian and Benadryl.
But really, ultimately, the thing was that although they would help a little bit. Oh, I tried Ambien, too. Didn’t help at all. Tried Trazodone. Didn’t help.
Ultimately none of it worked. It might “help” one night and then the next night I would sleep less. So it just really didn’t work.
I didn’t want to be using THC or a drug every night and then to have it really not even work. So it was just like such a miserable cycle.
And also, you know, you don’t really feel good when you use any substance to sleep because the quality of your sleep goes down.
Once we started working together, how long did it take for you to start noticing some positive changes?
I could tell I was sleeping more soundly from the first days. And then after probably two weeks, then I started realizing that I really, really was having fewer wakings and having less trouble going back to sleep when I did wake up.
What did you find beneficial about sleep coaching as you were going through it?
The most amazing thing about sleep coaching is that it was like an addendum ego for me and offered me ego strength to stick to the plan. Because I had come up with lots of neato little plans for myself in the years I was struggling with sleep, but I didn’t have anybody backing me up. So when they got hard I would just stop because I didn’t know, you know, am I doing this right?
And so by making a plan with you and then and then promising to keep it, although I didn’t do it perfectly, that’s what allowed me to stick through the hard parts.
As we were working together, what were some big personal breakthroughs that really meant something to you?
I knew I was heading in the right direction because I was having nights where I would only wake up once. That was after a few weeks.
But then I had a night where I didn’t, well I got up to pee in the middle of the night but I went right back to sleep. And that was a real breakthrough because I had not had that good a night in probably 10 years.
That, you know, was really kind of a miracle for me.
What has changed for you since working with an adult sleep coach?
Well, I have a real hopeful attitude when I go to bed at night. The dread is gone. I feel very sure that I will sleep without substances.
And I don’t do any specific, crazy rituals either. You know, I’m not doing anything extra to speak of. Well, I am doing a little bit of journaling, but it just feels natural, and I feel like I’m a good sleeper now and at least that I’m really vastly improved.
I feel just, and this this was evident just a couple of weeks in, I know I just started feeling so much brighter and clearer in the head during the day. I just felt rested and I hadn’t felt rested in three or four years.
Before, you know, the occasional night, I would sleep well and would feel this way. And but now I really feel that way every day, pretty much.
Occasionally I have a night where I sleep about five or five-and-a-half hours. And I remember what it’s like to feel a little less energized and clear. But even that I feel good. I think the quality of sleep is good. And so it’s really plenty.
One thing that’s shifted that’s really remarkable to me is that I just have such a good attitude about exercise now because it takes a lot of energy to exercise, and when you’re rested, it just is easier.
But the truly phenomenal thing to me is that my level of inflammation has gone down in my body, so I haven’t used Advil or Tylenol for just everyday pain pretty much since we started working together. So that is like a medical miracle to me.
I think the quality of the sleep has just improved the overall inflammation in my body. So that’s like totally, totally amazing.
Do you think that the investment in sleep coaching is worthwhile?
Oh, it’s ridiculously worthwhile. There’s no doubt in my mind – I would recommend it to anybody. In fact, I’ve recommended it to two dozen people.
There’s nothing like having the faith that you’re going to sleep when you get into bed. And there’s nothing like feeling this good during the day.
There’s no amount of money that really, you know, I wouldn’t pay for this. I would have paid more. Not that I want you to raise your rates, but it’s really kind of priceless.
What would you tell someone who might be considering working with a Sleepably sleep coach?
Even if you’re skeptical, it’s really worth a try. It’s the support you need and the kind of tailored plan that you need to make a change.
So I would say just invest four weeks, just decide you’re going to try four weeks and then see is it working? I know it will help you.