Sleep management

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Sleep management

Postby ivy » Thu Jul 05, 2007 6:23 am

Has anyone here played with Dr. McDougall's "sleep management"? How did it go for you? I stumpled across this in the March 2004 newsletter and it caught my attention and I have started to experiment with it. ... ession.htm

Does anyone know where I can read more about this? He presents sleep management as a cure for depression. I am not depressed but I have somnophobia....yes that's an irrational fear of sleep. This means that just getting ready for bed causes anxiety. Before anyone tells me how to cure me, I've already done it. If I actually catch myself falling asleep or sleeping, I will wake up with a full blown anxiety attack....difficulty breathing, sweating, rapid heartbeat etc. I do sleep but I have to kind of fool myself into doing it. Now before anyone gives me tips on how to relax at bedtime...let me remind you that the stress factor is sleep this would be like telling someone with an irrational fear of spiders how to relax and reduce stress before climbing into bed. Oh, and by the way, the bed is covered with live spiders. Unless you have a phobia, you don't have a clue. So anyway, I thought, why not give this a try...I've tried everything else. I've only been on it for a week now and I'm down to 5 hours a night. I doubt I was sleeping more than that before except that this was uninterupted. I don't remember waking up last night and I was out of bed before I realized I'd been sleeping. Why McDougall's version of "sleep management" intriqued me is that (like everything else he says) it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. I've paid good money for hypnosis so that I could get "more sleep" has never even occured to me that maybe I need to get less sleep. So if anyone has had experience with McDougall's sleep management....or would like to try it.....I'd love to compare notes.
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Postby ivy » Fri Jul 06, 2007 7:55 am

Thank you to all who have sent me personal messages on this subject. However, I think I was not clear in my original post because I am receiving tips on how to relax and get to sleep (diet, exercise, etc). And yes, I am aware that sleep disturbance can be a symptom of menopause. This has been going on a whole lot longer than from age 4.
I understand that this is confusing but let me clarify. I am not looking for ways to get to sleep. I already know how to do that. I am curious to see if a method that has been used to treat depression might also have an effect on a phobic reaction. It's too early yet for me to draw any far I don't think I've "reduced" my sleep so much as compressed it. I normally sleep in segments....but haven't actually kept track of the hours. So please, no more suggestions on how to get to sleep.
What I want to know is have you tried sleep reduction? Did it help your depression or anxiety? Has it continued to help long term? Or are you considering sleep reduction and would just like to swap notes?
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Postby groundhogg » Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:46 am

I've struggled with other phobias in the past, so I can relate as to how frustrating it is to just deal with a phobia. I did manage to overcome the phobia, with a lot of hard work...took about 2 years of a technique called "flooding," but I don't know how that would be approached with a sleep phobia.

I've had a certain amount of anxiety when I wake up after having been asleep for just an hour or two...not really a phobia, but very disturbing anxiety. The only ways I've found of managing it are to listen to "talk radio" (usually kind of amusing, if you can stand to hear some of it, though once in a while the guests and topics are actually interesting) and just stay near groundhubbie for extra.... you know...companionship or not feeling too alone in the universe or something. When he's out of town, I try to get a dog to stay up in the bed all night...but our dogs sometimes jump down on the floor and don't want back up :? .

I've gone through most of my life without adequate sleep...and I personally don't like how it disposition is much happier when I can get enough sleep; it has been better for me recently. I feel much better on the days following a decent night's sleep...for me, really, 7 or 8 hours makes me feel my best.

If you could find a therapist knowledgeable with the flooding behavoral modification technique for phobias...that knew how to relate that to your situation, it could maybe help. I also found some helpful ideas in Albert Ellis's book, Rational Emotive Therapy.

Postby Karen » Fri Jul 06, 2007 9:55 am

Hi Ivy -

I'm sure somewhere the solution is something about picturing someone naked :eek: ... I used to have a phobia about speaking in public...not really a fear, but an excited anxiety and you can't believe how many people would tell the the old "picture them naked" thing. It wasn't stage fright I had, it was anxiety that my body had, not my mind.

Now I speak almost weekly and look forward to it. For me, it took a lot of speaking and media appearances to make it boring enough for my body to find other things to be anxious about.

But I think what is confusing me is your actual question. It appears you are asking if the sleep management program has been ever associated to 'fixing" any phobia, not just a phobia about sleep. Do I understand the root of your question?
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Postby AnnaS » Fri Jul 06, 2007 10:44 am

Ivy--It makes a lot of sense to me that the sleep restriction technique that Dr. McDougall writes about might help you. I hope you will report back about your results, and certainly let Dr. McDougall know as he'll be interested too.

One reason it makes sense, is that it reduces the scope of the problem! Also I would think over time you'd get used to this and presumably sleep 'harder' during the shorter period. I'm just guessing here, but it does sound like it would work.

Good luck!
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Postby KristaO » Fri Jul 06, 2007 5:40 pm


I would try different things till something works for you. Have you tried any type of therapy like NLP? That has helped me tremendously in the past. But now I found something even more powerful - it's called EFT. I actually just had my 1st session today, and cleared out a lot of emotional issues. Check out the site below, and you can also search for practitioners in your area. Good luck!

Postby ivy » Sun Jul 08, 2007 5:33 pm

Wow! Thank you so much for your responses!

Groundhog, YOU really get it! Sometimes what I have is the "disturbing anxiety" that you describe and sometimes it's much worse. I never linger in bed when I wake because it makes me feel terrible. I have to get up. I have 3 dogs by the bed as well as tv or radio playing plus I keep stuff close by (sewing, books, puzzles) so that I can convince myself that I'm not really planning to sleep. I almost have to do things opposite of what the sleep experts say to. I sleep in a public area of the house with light and distractions. My phobia is not severe enough that I am desperate to resolve it....I've lived with it this long but I am curious still to see if McDougall's version of sleep management would make a difference. I HAVE done "implosive" therapy for this and another phobia. This was about 17 years ago and helped tremendously but didn't completely fix it. Before this, I would sometimes stay awake for days until I was exhausted and sick because I was too terrified to sleep...whenever I started to fall asleep, I would swear that I couldn't breath. It's really not that bad now....I know how to manage it. An interesting note. If you read the article by Dr. McDougall he says that this works for depression in 80% of the people who try it and he says that the sleep quota is different for different people. He also talks about people who become depressed after increasing their sleep. It sounds to me that he's implying that some depression is actually CAUSED by too much sleep (vs. being cured by less sleep). He caught my attention when he said, "The best responses are found with people who have large day-to-day variability of mood. People are more likely to respond to sleep deprivation when they have a history of feeling worse in the morning, then gradually becoming freer of their symptoms as evening approaches – as the 'depressant effects' of the previous night's sleep wear off through the wakeful hours of the day" and also "Some patients are so sensitive to the depressing effects of sleep that they relapse even after a short, 2 to 15 minute, nap." Now replace the words "depressing" and "depressant" with "anxiety producing" and "terrifying" and that would be me. I cannot take naps because they make me feel so horrible. The other thing that gave me a hint to try this is that I have a weekend job that starts at 6 am so I'm up by 4:30. The weekend is also when I socialize or go shopping, so I get very little sleep for a couple of days. I always feel great and energetic. During the week I have another job and don't have to start as early so I make a point of getting a little extra sleep to make up for the weekend and I don't feel as good when I first get up. If I sleep past 6, my day is just bad.

Karen....I'll have to try to picture someone naked! No, really, you made me think....they say that is great for social anxiety. Absolutely none of my business but what do you speak about so bravely? The root of my question....I was just curious how "sleep management" has worked for people and I was also thinking isn't there a link between depression and anxiety? And isn't there also a link between anxiety and phobias? I have no idea if sleep management will make a difference but where is the harm in experimenting? What if I cut my sleep by say an hour or two and discover I'm not as terrified of it? ...or I find I'm having less anxiety when I wake.....or I stop getting up at night.

Anna....yes, this is exactly what I am thinking and I have no idea if it will work.

Krista....thank you for the link....I stuck it in my "read" file and will read it when I get a chance (like tonight when I'm not sleeping) :lol: .
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Postby susie » Sun Jul 08, 2007 8:18 pm

Ivy after reading your first post I decided to use sleep management to help me control my SAD, seasonal Affective Disorder, it's winter here at the moment.

Yesterday I got around 6-7 hours sleep and I got up earlier around 7 am. I did not even try to sleep before midnight. I felt more energetic than I had in days, so today is day 2 of the sleep management program. Its early morning here so I will see how I feel later.

Being retired, I have lapsed into some bad habits and I usually stay up late and sleep until 9.30 am. I feel depressed and listless all day and not at all energetic.

I have never heard of a sleep phobia, but I will not travel down in lifts. i often wonder what I would do if I lived in New York or Chicago?

Most of us have fears and some is unfounded. I used to go down in lifts, but as they made them faster, I stopped using them. I was also terrified of air travel, but once I tried it I quite liked it as long as its not too bumpy.

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Postby groundhogg » Mon Jul 09, 2007 9:29 am


I can't take naps either! Gosh I never heard of anybody else like this before...whenever I've been tired enough to let myself fall asleep for a few minutes during the day...I was REALLY SORRY for it later...when I woke up from a nap, I'd be so psychotic-feeling...I mean totally disoriented, foggy, fearful and just's just not worth it to me...I don't take naps because I feel like it messes me up so bad!!!!

Let us know how your sleep experiments go.

Personally, I VALUE the nights when I've been able to get 7 or 8 (I don't recall EVER getting more than 8 hours ... so I have no idea how that would feel... 8 has been the extreme for me) hours' sleep...I really feel good the next day. 5 hours is more my usual...and there's a difference...I prefer more than that, for me personally.

Anyone who has had a phobia knows they are different than just fears and anxieties...with a phobia, you really CAN'T function at all or be there in the particular situation. I had agorophobia, or more specifically demophobia...fear of crowds, and for about a year I could not go anywhere but just a certain patch of woods around our house. I was anxious if I got outside of the woods...and too terrified to even venture into even a little-bitty convenient store. The flourescent lights seemed to amplify the phobia, so any public place became off limits for me at that point. I struggled with everything I had to overcome that. It was really hard. Sometimes even now, we go to something like a baseball game or somewhere where it's really, really crowded...and I feel twinges of discomfort, and I have to do some things inside my head to stop the process, although I don't think it would ever get as bad as it was back many years ago. I've read there can be a connection with gluten in both depression and phobias...makes me wonder if it could be true in my case, now that I know I cannot tolerate gluten. I first got my phobia immediately after having surgery to remove my appendix as a kid. None of the adults believed me...they thought I was faking stuff to avoid school...and I didn't have a good grasp on what I was experiencing, myself, enough to know how to relay that to the adults...and it was just torturous and terrifying. Eventually, by the time I was graduating from high school...the panic and terror I had been forced to endure daily to get through school had just worn off; I was free of the phobia. But about six years later it became retriggered, somehow, and was even worse than ever...without the world of adults forcing me to do an adult faced with such terror, I chose to avoid the situtaions, and the panic became so powerful I found myself frozen and unable to do things. I finally found help...struggled through for a couple of years, and gradually got my life back again. Wondering right now if the surgery had triggered some gluten intolerance, and, even though i had no intestinal sypmtoms...wondering if gluten peptides began crossing the blood brain barrier????? Okayl....groundhogs always have lots to wonder about... :P

Anyway... I'm curious to hear how anybodys sleep experiments go.

Postby Autumn » Mon Jul 09, 2007 1:33 pm

I have dealt with phobias, anxiety, sleep issues, depression and a touch of asperger's symptoms. Amazingly gluten free took care of alot of it. My symptoms of asperger's are gone basically, I had a thing with numbers and it was very irritating and embarassing to me so my husband wasn't even aware of it till gluten free diet cleared it up :o Most of my sleep problems were cleared up within six months of gluten free till recently which have sparked up due to anxiety and stress issues. Depression was cleared up for the most part thanks to a gluten free diet. It was so bad I was crying all the time and it changed me completely within a few months.

I still struggle with social anxiety disorder, I have an extremely difficult time at parties and get togethers. My husband has the least patience with this but I'm slowly trying to overcome it myself by forcing myself to do things. So far, it hasn't worked but I hope to get there someday. I still cant eat at parties due to stress and irritable bowel syndrome but I hope to soon.

Im not saying gluten is your problem but it might be something to look into. I never thought one little type of food could have so much impact on my mind and body.
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Postby groundhogg » Tue Jul 10, 2007 6:14 am

I've wondered if I fall into that asperger's category.

I've always been an extremely, EXTREME person, in many ways. I've now been gluten free for a year and a half, and besides the physical improvements, which are still happening all the time, emotionally I feel as though I've been on some high speed car ride for many years or possibly most of my life, and for the past several months or about a year or so now, I just kinda went into a confusing spin...I think there are a lot of changes going on and it's just got me pretty confused about where I am right now...along with all of this confusion of self, I've gotten confused about diet, don't have a comfortable, familiar week or two's worth of recipes anymore, just feel like I went into this spin and am gradually entering the atmosphere of some new, unfamiliar planet!!!! :shock:

How long have you been gluten free, Autumn? Oh...and there's been LOTS of gluten-related stuff my husband never knew about, too...kinda like alcoholics...I think glutened people learn to deny and hide, even before they know gluten is the problem...I think they just sense stuff is just wrong, and it gets so confusing the usual way to handle it is to stuff it under the rug.

Postby ivy » Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:27 am

Autumn and Groundhogg....that's interesting about the gluten connection. I could try gluten free just to see....but maybe later. Right now it would mess up my experiment. I don't know that I eat that much gluten...that's in wheat and rye, right? Any other foods have gluten? The only time I eat wheat is if I bother to bake bread which isn't real often because I'm basically a lazy cook. I mean it takes less than a minute to load the rice cooker and 15 minutes to cook potatoes so why bother with bread?

Groundhogg...o.k. you're the first person I've run across with the nap problem too. You are describing it exactly. I can feel incredibly psychotic, fearful, depressed and disoriented after even a brief nap.....even though I'm purfectly fine after the effect has worn off. I often wonder if this reaction feeds my somnophobia. I also sometimes wonder if phobias are like allergies in that a person with one phobia is at risk to pick up others......and that phobias can feed and react to each other. (like when one allergy gets worse...they all get worse, or if you cut out one allergen, the other allergies are relieved somewhat). I had a phobia to tractors as a kid. It was so severe that I injured my hands (age 4) trying to claw my way into the front door because I heard a tractor. Today if I hear a tractor I wear earplugs. It's the sound that bothers me. Even though I know it's just a tractor and isn't harmful, I still have an involuntary reaction where I become very nervous, have a feeling of dread and will sometimes start to cry. Even writing the word "tractor" makes me want to cry. Phobias are really really weird. I think I have had a touch of agorophobia...there were a few times when I suddenly became severely depressed simply because I was in a crowd, even though I wasn't normally depressed. The first time it happened was at my sister's high school graduation and it happened a few other times at amusement parks. I think I was becoming demophobic until someone pointed it out to me. Even though I'm very active, work two jobs and have friends, I realized one day that I rarely leave a 10 block radius now I make a point of leaving the neighborhood occasionally.

Susie....Australia! I just love the internet! I really don't have a clue how to go about conducting a sleep management experiment. The only thing I've done so far is (try to) make my waking time consistent. I'm now setting the alarm for 4:30 regardless of what day it is or when I think I'll be going to sleep. Last night I fell asleep (I think) around 10:30. I got up at three thirty. I don't remember getting up during the I think I've been pretty consistent in sleeping around 5 hours. I feel fine when I get up....I'm wide awake but late morning, early afternoon I've been suddenly a little sleepy. So I think that I'll fall asleep earlier. But then I wake up again and I'm not tired at all in the evening. I'm guessing that I'll have to stick to one sleep schedule for a while before I can evaluate how it is effecting me. As far as the phobia is concerned.....I became a little anxious last night when I went to bed but I was reading and don't actually remember falling asleep or waking up. But sometimes that's what I normally do. I have no idea what the best way is to find my ideal sleep time. I don't really know how to evaluate energy levels or sleepiness. Like I said, I'm used to having a lot of energy on the weekends when I'm also getting little sleep but I have always assumed that that is because it was only for a night or two.....and that I should try to get more sleep during the week to make up for it. I'm changing that assumption somewhat. I'll be happy if I just have an easier time dealing with sleep in general but I've started thinking.... wouldn't it be neat if I turn out to be one of those people that really doesn't need that much sleep? I'm always saying that I don't have enough time for all the stuff I want to do! Oh yeah, and then Dr. McDougall warns that too little sleep can make you manic and that if you're TOO happy and energetic, you need to get more sleep. So now I'm going, "Gee, I feel great today! Or do I feel TOO great? Hmmm."
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Postby susie » Tue Jul 10, 2007 8:58 am

Ivy the only thing about the internet is that I have to go back in time. It's usually yesterday when I post on this forum. That is, the date says it's the day before. :shock: I am just gong to bed, when you are getting up.

I am amazed at how quickly I have responded to not oversleeping. I feel great with around 6.5 hours of sleep each night. Dr McDougall says it is important to get the early morning light. Anyway as I said, I feel great and not suffering from seasonal affective disorder at all thanks to you.

Perhaps I can fool myself that I am going up in an elevator, when I am going down. I walk around snakes, love spiders, have overcome my fear of flying, but I am terrified of descending in an elevator. Ahhh, such is life!

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Postby groundhogg » Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:43 am

One thing I learned about phobias when I struggled my way through the behavior modification technique called means exactly that...the more you literally flood your senses with the phobia, the less sensitive you eventually become...although it's horrible getting to that point. But I learned from that that it works in the early stages of a phobia that if there is ever a twinge of phobic-feeling fear, the thing to do is to continue on with whatever it is, or being around it, flooding yourslef with the thing, until eventually you become desensitized to your reaction.

I think in treating an actual full-blown phobia with this technique, a person needs's impossilbe to fight it yourself...when I had a fear of crowds, my therapist went with me to gradually more and more crowded places, and I literally grabbed onto him (his arms probably have scars...I would hold tight during panic) to stay there and wait out the panic attacks...they wouldn't entirely subside, but once they got less severe we would calmly, slowly leave the place. He moved away from town after about a year of that, but talked with my husband in helping me from then on, and so my groundhubby probably has scars to show for it too...the panic was so severe...but anyway, I did learn that a phobia can easily be staved off, prevented, by purposely making a point to flood yourslef with the thing until you feel yourself just becoming desensitized to the overwhelming the point where it's at least just manageable fear instead of wild panic.

If I'm seating myself someplace and feel a twinge of fear...I try to go further into the middle of the crowd and avoid the end rows, or places near exits, etc. I have to do that to keep desensitized. An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure in these things.

Postby ivy » Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:12 pm

Groundhogg....The "implosive" therapy I had 17 years ago is the same as "flooding"....same technique, different name. The therapist used a variety of techniques including hypnosis, all aimed toward becoming desensitized through gradually introduced and increased exposure to the "triggers". After several thousand dollars worth of therapy, it was no longer in the budget, and certainly isn't now. But that's o.k. I got things to a point where it's managable and I'm not really trying to "fix" myself any more. Also, I don't think I'd have the patience for therapy any more. As I get older, there are so many other things I'd rather do with my time and money. great-neice goes to bed when I'm getting up too. And she lives in the same house! :lol: That's terrific that sleep management has helped your seasonal affective disorder....and so quickly! That's inspiring! I feel better too but it's not so dramatic because I felt o.k. when I started. But I'm noticeing little things like I'm getting more done....and not just because I have more "wake" time. I was walking through the house today when it suddenly occured to me....the house is clean, the laundry is done, the grass is mowed, the bills are paid, the office is tidy....the "in" box is emptied. Hey, I haven't fallen behind on ANYTHING. Now that's just spooky! :lol:
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