Tuesday, May 14, 2019

and now for.... sleepio!

I've been a fan of online self-directed self help systems since the days when Moodgym was free to anyone who was prepared to role-play being an Australian student. As anyone who combines depression, anxiety and social awkwardness knows, six sessions with the therapist is probably going to be barely enough to stop feeling awkward and trying to put them at their ease, unless you have laser-like focus or a lucky connection. So removing the therapist from the therapy can be very practical, if you're fairly self-challenging and find other people quite distracting.

Of course, Moodgym's been off the table and behind a paywall for years now, and the various other ones are a bit, well, non-structured I suppose - there are good individual exercises, but nothing that sits you down and says, right, this week we're working on this.

Until I hit Sleepio, that is. I hit it for professional reasons. I needed to know what kind of people it might appeal to/suit and running it through is often the best way to get a good feel for that. And it's only four weeks, 1 hour each week, so I felt it would be a light and easy commitment.

Six months later, I'm still doing Sleepio. I've long since worked through all the exercises (even the weird one, where you record the ambient overnight noise in your bedroom), listened to all the helpful sleep advice from the little animated sleep professor with his soporific Scottish accent, giggled at his dog being called Pavlov, and activated the bulk of recommended changes. I'm sleeping better, and although we also did swap old our old futon for a smart new memory foam mattress during this time, which may have been the prime mover in the sleep improvement, a lot of the feeling better about sleep came from Professor Sleepio and his suite of small incremental changes.

And every morning, I go back to it, to journal last night's sleep. I get a percentage rating for my sleep efficiency (aim for 90%+, but accept that it sometimes won't be up there), and I get to track how much I sleep (a fairly consistent 6.5-7 hours), I can tag nights with things like stress, nausea and exercise (I set my own tags) and I get to record brief notes of how the night went in a free text field. Here's one from a 67% night:

I started feeling like I was drowning again
In fairness, my mouth and throat
Suddenly went into mucus overdrive
Tim was trying to hold me in a bad position
I just couldn't and started coughing
Eventually left him to sleep
And read a book. It had a significant severed head
But I couldn't even remember the who is was
Who's Sam? Why is his head on a silver dish?

Sleepio. It's made my insomnia into a source of personal entertainment.