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Sleep the Final Frontier

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by William, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. William

    William New Member

    My name is William and I have been struggeling with back pain for years, I diagnosised myself after reading Dr. Sarno's book "Healing Back Pain" as having TMS. I began to apply the principles in the book and saw a reduction with 90% of my symptoms, I am also off all my medications now. I slept great at night, the first time in about 6 years, for several weeks. But I guess I have slipped or something because my back pain has returned at night. Help!
    I try to do several key things before I go to bed, reviewing key points of TMS, affirmation statements about sleep... but I am stuck. When I wake up I try telling my mind to "stop it" but it is difficutl to focus and process emotional issues when you are half awake. I believe, could be wrong, that at night my mind is thinking about various things and thus creating tension. If you have any ideas or have experienced this PLEASE HELP. Thank You, William (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
    savtala likes this.
  2. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Hi William,
    I've had pain waking up, morning anxiety, and bad dreams. I think it's part of the whole TMS process. During sleep the unconscious mind is in control and it's not like you can do your affirmations in your sleep :) There was something really great about sleep/waking up in pain in the Frequently Asked Questions section of Dr. Schubiner's book--I think he says something about journaling before bed and then writing or saying I'm going to deal with this later it's not going to affect my sleep...and after a few weeks of that, sleep should improve. I don't have the book with me though so maybe someone else remembers it better.

    Take care,
  3. Susan

    Susan Peer Supporter


    I use the Schubiner insomnia protocol every night. It is in Chapter 12 of his book. He actually suggests listing out what you might be worried about in the night which is like journaling but my list pretty much stays the same. I keep a generic list by my bed and then instruct my mind I will deal with any problems in the morning. I also have written out what I expect during the night, like longer episodes of sleep than the night before, up less time at night, being pain free in the night and awakening with no pain. I read these instructions to myself before I lay down. I find I have been sleeping much better most nights.

    William, you might want to give this a try. It has taken about six weeks for these instructions to have a positive effect and worth the time to me. Hope this is helpful and anything else others might wish to add.


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  4. quert

    quert Guest

    The question from Unlearn Your Pain is I'm either waking up in the middle of the night or I wake up with pain. How can I deal with those things which are occurring while I sleep?.

    Schubiner's answer is:

    Unlearn Your Pain is a wonderful book and if you haven't yet, I would suggest checking it out.
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  5. William

    William New Member

    Thanks for the help, I appreciate it very much. I just got Schubiner's workbook and will immediately apply these principles tonight. I'll keep you informed with how it works for me. I really like to sleep and anything that is helpful will be great. Thanks, William
  6. William

    William New Member

    Additional Comments on Sleep problems and therapy approach requested. I can fall asleep okay, but I wake up with back pain in my mid-back. Last night I was able to greatly decrease the pain with my mind (not really sure how, but it felt like some type of mental meditation to fight the pain). However, in order for me to do this I had to maintain that mind set, which is not a mental state of being designed for sleep. I have been journaling, working on positive affiramations, and reminding myself that I have probably trained my mind to believe that laying down is bad for my back, I think I have to untrain my mind. I am also concerned that writing all my statements that say things like "I feel angry because..." may actually be agitating my psychological factors. I did so great applying Dr. Sarno's primary points for several weeks but I appear to be stuck. I wish I could sleep. I will give it several more weeks and then explore going to a doctor or therapist that is trained in TMS, the closest appears to be in Dallas TX (I live in Tulsa Oklahoma). Please keep the comments coming because I can't afford to give up.

    Current therapy approach (Daily therapy)

    Key points I write down key points of TMS (based on Sarno's book)
    1) I do not have anything wrong with my back.
    2) Anytime I have back tension/pain it is the result of unresolved emotions in my mind.
    3) I do not need heat treatment, medication, or any other medical treatment.
    4) My back will be 100% free from back pain or tension
    5) I will not let my mind move pain around my body.
    6) I can do any activity or exercise I desire with no pain/tension in my back, including running.
    7) I can sit, stand, and lay down in any position for long periods of time with no tension or pain in my back.

    Response to Pain
    1) I remain calm because I know that it is nothing serious and that the pain will shortly pass.
    2) I say to my mind "Stop I know what your up to and it won't work, so stop it."
    3) I stop and process my emotional feelings by using "I feel..." statements

    I am also trying to learn how to "Think Clean" reduce emotional reactivity to things like the news...

    I am also using biblical scripture (I am a Christian) such as "Cast all your anxiety on Him (God) because He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7)

  7. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Hi William,
    It sounds like you are doing good work. It just takes time. Be kind and patient with yourself.
  8. Michael Reinvented

    Michael Reinvented Peer Supporter

    Hang in there, William you have come too far.

    Insomnia has also been a major stressor for me over the past 2 years. I have been trying some additional late afternoon exercise (1km shuffle/ jog) recently, and this seems to be helping tire my body, as I have extended that first wake up from 3-6 hrs post eyes shut.

    Maybe this could help you?

    Faith and persistence.
  9. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Writing down the daily reminders a great practice, but you also need to find ways to put those words into action. For instance, one of the reminders is I can sit, stand, and lay down in any position for long periods of time with no tension or pain in my back. Put this to action by not avoiding pain. Lean into it, and don't move in a way to avoid it.

    Also, you may not need to fully understand why you are angry. Just recongizing that you have anger, rage, and other deep emotions may be enough to alleviate your symptoms. Try not to overcomplicate this. Remember your id is the primitive part of your mind, so the feeling that you are repressing is probably equally primitive or immature. Thinking of it this way may help you identify what emotion you are actually repressing, to whatever extent that is possible.

    The daily reminders are a great starting point for TMS recovery, but you still need to go beyond that to recover. Thinking Clean is a great step to take. You could also try to practice mindfulness or conscious breathing as well. Also, look at becoming more active, if you are not already. Exercise and activity are a great way to reinforce the daily reminders on an unconscious level.

    All in all it sounds like you are making great progress. It can be difficult to feel this way when you still have symptoms, but remember recovery is not a linear process. Your goal is not to become pain free, but to simply not care if the pain is there or not. This invovles gaining Outcome Independence, which can be difficult to reach, but is something that I believe to be great goal to aim for.
  10. William

    William New Member

    Thanks for the advice, I'll go back to work and keep you informed. William
  11. William

    William New Member

    Update: Sleep remains inconsistent in nature.

    1) I believe that my anxiety/fear about not getting sleep has actually prevented me from sleeping well, so I have tried to have a "no big deal" attitude, this has helped out. Last night I did not sleep at all, but came home in the afternoon and said to myself "who cares all I can do is try" and I slept great!
    2) I sat last night and was reading in bed, fine for about 30 minutes and then the pain slowely began to come. Most of the time by this time I am asleep, normally I fall asleep after 5-10 minutres, but wake up with pain a hour or two later. What do they call this when certain positions trigger pain? Perhaps I need to practice laying down for more and more extended periods of time. I did this with running, I started off running 5 minutes (before I would have major relapses of pain while running) and then every week I would add more time. I ran yesterday for 17 minutes with no pain! Iron Man competition hereI come! When I am done running I like to remind my TMS that it will not dominate me but I will dominate it, putting it in its' place. Perhaps I should do this with laying down and prolonging my endurance and establishing a sort of mental domination over TMS as well. What do you think?

    I appreciate the comments and read / apply them all the time. Thanks, William (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
  12. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    It is probably called a number of different things, but I just call it conditioning. It sounds like your unconscious mind is conditioned to create pain whenever you lie down. Conditioning like this is quite common for people with TMS. In my case, I was conditioned to have pain when I typed on a keyboard. Overcoming it is different for everyone. I noticed that I had a lot of fear of hurting myself and causing permenate damage. Realizing that I did not have a structural issue gave me the confidence to push through the pain. Pushing yourself like this can really help overcome the conditioning. This is probably why you are able to run further and further. By pushing yourself physically you are telling your unconcsious that you do not have a structural problem.

    Overcoming a conditioned response that is not due to a physical activity, such as laying down or sitting, can be different to some degree. I think the most helpful thing you can do in this case would be to simply not avoid pain. Don't try to adjust your body so you won't feel pain. When you do that you are, to some degree or another, reinforcing the idea that you have a physical problem.

    A lot of conditioning is also due to your thoughts. You think or worry that laying down will be painful and so it is. Mindfulness is a really effective technique to do in this situation. With mindfulness you are simply trying to change your thoughts from the worry, obsessive, TMSing patterns to one focused on the present. It may take some time to do this, but if you continue to practice mindfulness you will see major improvements.
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  13. William

    William New Member


    Sorry for the delay regarding the update on my problems with sleep. Over the past 1-2 weeks I have stopped doing my work, journaling, reading, positive affirmations and so on. As a result I have had a worse time. Last night I did reading out of "Unlearn your pain" and did some journaling for about 45 min before bed and I slept about 4 hours. I'm not sure if the tension in my back is associated with unresolved emotional issues in my mind or if I have as Forest says developed a "conditioned response" to this position. Perhaps both. Well I have decided to get back on the horse again and start fighting again.
    I will continue to engage in cognitive therapy (writing and verbalizing) key components of my recovery, such as "there is nothing wrong with my back". I also will resume running again (behavior modification) which always makes me feel better. I will continue to educate myself by reading Schubiner's book on "unlearn your pain". I can't give into it (Dr. Sarno calls it "TMS" but Schubiner refers to it as being "MBS" (mind body syndrome) but whatever it is I need to overcome it. My desire is to sleep 8 hours each night with no pain or tension, this will allow me to become more functional in the day. When this happens I hope to help others who also struggle with sleeping. If anyone has any additional resources regarding sleeping with TMS please let me know. Thank you, William (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

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