5 Causes of insomnia you should know about

Insomnia can feel like an awful burden. The constant tossing and turning before you finally drift off to sleep. The hours and hours spent staring at the ceiling can be so frustrating. I’ve heard people say “My dad had insomnia, so I have it too.” That type of thinking makes one give up- as if it is hereditary. The good news I have for you is that insomnia does not have to be a lifelong curse. You can indeed find a cure for your insomnia. But before we get into insomnia treatments, let’s focus on 5 things that might be preventing you from getting the quality sleep you deserve:

1) Alcohol use: I’ve heard a lot of people use the term “Night cap” to refer to a nightly drink of alcohol. We even see it in the movies. You sit back, pour a glass of wine and use it as a relaxation tool after a long day of work. While a glass of wine in itself isn’t bad for you, the quantity of alcohol you drink as well as the time you drink it could be affecting your sleep. Now I’m well aware that many people feel relaxed after a glass of wine and might even drift off to a cozy sleep. But for others, alcohol actually affects their sleep quality.

Alcohol can actually shorten the length of your deep sleep and also create fragmented sleep. So in a bid to cure your sleep problems with alcohol, you actually end up with shorter sleep and your sleep becomes disturbed throughout the night. This could lead to more night time awakenings and more tiredness in the morning. So to be on the safe side, either avoid alcohol a few hours before bed, or don’t drink it at all.

2) Screen time: We live in a digital world. We are glued to our electronic devices more than ever before. While technology can be very helpful with daily tasks, our devices can actually prevent us from getting the sleep we crave. Cell phones and tablets emit a blue light that send a signal to the brain, preventing it from producing melatonin. And we need melatonin for sleep. So to be safe, put aside your devices an hour before bedtime. Give your body time to produce the melatonin it needs to relax for the night.

3) Exercise: You’ve heard that 30 minutes of exercise a day is recommended for a healthy body. Exercise is also great for your heart, your lungs, and many other organs. However if you exercise at the wrong time, you might actually be preventing sleep and triggering insomnia. When you work out, your body temperature increases, and signals to your brain that you should wake up. After a few hours, your body temperature will naturally fall, signaling to your brain that you should get ready to sleep. But if you exercise too close to bed time, your body temperature will rise, and your body might not know that you should be getting ready to sleep. If you struggle with insomnia, limit exercise to no less than 4 hours before your bedtime, so you can give your body a chance to reduce its temperature and produce melatonin for sleep.

4) Irregular bedtime: We all know that bedtimes are great for kids, but the problem is that some adults completely do away with the idea of a bedtime due to busy work schedules, irregular traveling schedules, or personal commitments. The thing is your body works like a well oiled machine. When you sleep at odd times, your body becomes unsure of when it is expected to rest. The solution? If you struggle with insomnia or some other sleep disorder, go to bed within the same hour each day. Create a good routine for yourself so that your body knows when to shut down and when to wake up each day.

5) Uncomfortable surroundings: Your bedroom should feel like a sanctuary. But for many, the bedroom doubles as a work room or an office. While this might be practical, it could confuse your body into thinking that nighttime is work time, rather than sleep time. If your bedroom is filled with clutter, your sheets are dirty and rough, or your bedroom smells old and stale, all these factors could prevent your body from feeling relaxed enough to shut down. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t feel relaxed in an uncomfortable environment either. If you can, take your computer out of your bedroom. Wash your sheets regularly and air out your room regularly so that fresh air can come in. You’ll notice the difference in your sleep quality.

If you are struggling with insomnia and your unsure of how to treat it, I provide insomnia treatment in Murrieta and online. Call 951-905-3181 to schedule a free consultation to see if CBT for insomnia treatment will help you get the sleep you’ve been yearning for. You an also email me here.

Is Suicide Preventable?

Suicide Prevention Week is September 8th-14th, 2019

During this week individuals and organizations around the country join their voices to broadcast the message that suicide can be prevented, and to reach as many people as possible with the tools and resources to support themselves and those around them. The theme of Suicide Prevention Week is Finding Purpose: Caring for Ourselves and Others.It truly takes whole communities joining together to make a difference – from individuals and families to workplaces, government agencies, and community organizations. 

Is suicide preventable?

In the last couple of years several well-known figures in the food and entertainment industries, died by suicide, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide rates rose in nearly every state in the U.S. Many of us have been personally impacted by the death of someone we know or someone we love. The problem can sometimes seem insurmountable.

You may have heard people asking, or asked yourself: “Is suicide preventable?” 

The causes of suicide are complex, and so are the solutions. Asking “why” when we lose someone is natural, but suicide can’t be attributed to a single cause. Preventing suicide requires sustained, broad-based efforts involving many sectors of the community and reaching into people’s relationships with friends and family. Working together, we can develop a comprehensive safety net for ourselves, friends and loved ones that includes prevention, early intervention, and support for those who are struggling, have attempted, or have lost someone to suicide.

There are reasons for hope!

The next time you hear someone ask “Is suicide preventable”, or you ask this question yourself, the answer lies partly in recognizing how much we do know about preventing suicide. 

 Did you know that:

·     Effective suicide prevention strategies exist that can reduce suicidal thinking and behavior? Some programs take place within clinical settings, and others are based in the community, but evaluation studies and research have shown that they can help. Find out more about these programs by checking out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Technical Package

·     National initiatives are underway that are enhancing suicide prevention in health care settings (e.g.zerosuicide.sprc.org) and within industries (e.g. Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention, www.cfma.org) and workplaces.

·     National and local efforts are helping us to change the conversation about suicide to one of hope and help and to encourage effective messagingaround suicide prevention. And as a result, more often we see compassionate portrayals and responses in media and in the entertainment industry after a suicide death.

·     The Know the Signs campaign is helping Californians to Know the Signs, Find the Words, and Reach Out to help someone they are concerned about. Check out the web site in Englishor Spanishtoday.


What is your role in suicide prevention?

While not every suicide can be prevented, by joining together throughout communities, we can reduce risk. Everyone has a role to play and a contribution to make. 

·     Visit the Each Mind Matters Resource Center for suicide prevention resources in many different languages.

·     Be ready and aware: learn the warning signs and how to help by visiting suicideispreventable.orgor by participating in a local training.

·     Reach out to local organizations, county agencies, or a crisis center to learn more about how you can support their work. 

·     Forge connections within your community-  check in with friends, family members, co-workers or neighbors who are struggling.

More ideas can be found in the online 2019 Each Mind Matters Suicide Prevention Week Activation Kit.

Add Your Voice to World Suicide Prevention Day

Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019 is World Suicide Prevention Day. This is an opportunity to join millions of others around the globe to focus public attention on preventing suicide through diverse activities to promote understanding about suicide and highlight effective prevention activities. For example:  Light a candlenear a window at 8pm to show your support, remember a lost loved one, and for the survivors of suicide. Click here to find e-cards or postcards in 62 languages.

 The Know the Signs campaign is one of several statewide initiatives funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63).  These efforts are administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) and are part of Each Mind Matters:  California’s Mental Health Movement.

Do this to sleep like a baby at night

I have always been a big believer in self advocacy. When you struggle with insomnia, it's important to try out different avenues so that you can perhaps figure out the cause of your insomnia. Here are 6 things you can do to help you sleep better at night.

1) Ask your doctor about your medications: Some medications can change your sleep cycle. If you are currently on any medications, it's important to have a discussion with your prescribing physician about how your medications could be affecting your sleep. But if you don't talk to your physician about sleep patterns, you could continue to struggle with sleep. Sometimes a little self advocacy cab go a long way.

Concerned about your sleep meds? Read more about sleep medication here. Insomnia and sleep Insomnia chronicles: The scary truth about those sleeping pills you take

2) Try journaling: Often times, anxiety or worries can bring on sleeplessness. If your mind is spinning around with worry thoughts, it is going to be difficult to get good quality sleep. About 30 minutes to an hour before your bed time, sit in a quiet spot and write out what's bothering you. Some people like to write in full sentences, while others use bullet points. If you're creative, you could even draw how you feel or write some poetry about it. The point of journaling is to wrap up your day and get your worries out on paper, so they stop swimming around in your head. 

While journaling, if important tasks for the next day pop up in your mind, it's also a great time to create a to do list for the next day. 

3) Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine a few hours before bedtime: It is an erroneous thought to believe that a 'night cap' is actually helpful for sleep. Actually, alcohol, nicotine and caffeine can interrupt your sleep patterns and worsen your insomnia. In the case of caffeine, it has a half life of 5 hours. This means it takes 5 hours for half the amount of caffeine you drink to be fully metabolized (absorbed) into your system. If you drink multiple cups of coffee throughout the day, you are essentially layering more and more caffeine in your body. So, by night time, chances are all that caffeine is still in there keeping you awake.

And if you find yourself awake late at night, click here to read about Insomnia tips: 10 things to do when you can't sleep at night

4) Practice relaxation about an hour before bedtime: The concept is simple- a relaxed mind is calm, and calmness helps you sleep. But a worried and harried mind is a bad environment for sleep. Remember that your mind and your body are connected. About an hour before bedtime, do something relaxing. Some examples are yoga, medication, prayer, stretches, breathing techniques or listening to soothing music. Let's not forget your sense of smell. Try using a drop of your favorite essential oil and also putting on soft, cozy pajamas. It would also help if your sheets are cool, clean and soft. To help your sense of sight, dim the lights or close the blinds, so that your body's sleep mechanism can also be triggered.

5) Take a nap: Many people who struggle with insomnia or sleep disorders often feel a dip in energy in the middle of the day. If your schedule permits, try taking one 30-minute nap in the middle of the day. This helps to recharge you, but doesn't get you so awake that you cannot sleep at night. Although naps can be beneficial, avoid napping in the evening or too close to bedtime. If you do this, you'll be wide awake at night.  

There you have it. 5 easy tips to help you sleep like a baby. And if you're a woman in Murrieta or Temecula who has struggled with insomnia, and you're ready to sleep soundly again, click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call to see if CBT for insomnia is the right treatment for your insomnia. I also provide online sessions for women throughout California.

Insomnia tips: 10 things to do when you can't sleep at night

One of the most painful things about insomnia is the boredom that happens when you find yourself staring at the ceiling for 3 hours straight. To make it worse, everyone else in your household is most likely asleep so you are stuck with your own thoughts. I always recommend that my clients who struggle with insomnia should get out of bed if they aren't able to fall asleep within 30 minutes. But after getting out of bed, what are you supposed to be doing?

Don't fret. I've got you covered. Here is a list of 10 things you can do when you can't sleep at night.

Look through old albums: Remember all those old pictures that are floating around in a random drawer or box in your home? Night time is the perfect time to actually get them organized. Think about it, you can reminisce about the good old days and get your pictures organized at the same time. If you don't have physical pictures, you can also spend this time organizing the pictures on your phone, tablet or laptop. Categorize them by date, location or any other system that works well for you.

Sort out junk mail: Many people have a junk mail drawer where they shove all their unsolicited mail and other miscellaneous items. Sometimes you can actually find good deals with coupons that are sent to your home. Night time is a great time to throw out useless mail, shred sensitive mail or organize mail you'd like to keep. My favorite mail organizing system is to use an accordion folder with tabs to keep everything. As your mail comes in, you can categorize it, and shred whatever you don't need.

Read something light (but not on a phone, tablet or computer screen): Night time or early morning is a great time to catch up on that novel or self help book you've been itching to read. Just ensure that you're not using an e-reader. I explain how electronics could affect your sleep cycle here. If you're a Christian, night time is also a great time to read your Bible or get caught up on a devotional. 

Clean out the fridge: Let's face it, no one likes to clean out the fridge, but the best time to do so is when everyone else is asleep. The kids can't bug you, your spouse isn't asking you questions, and you have total silence to get organized and methodical about it.

Organize clothes: You probably won't be able to overhaul your entire closet in one night, but you can definitely get a head start and feel accomplished. Pick one type of item and organize everything in that category. Perhaps you can start with shirts, or pants or skirts or accessories. Make it fun and enjoyable. You can even use headphones and listen to calming music while you organize. Getting stuff done beats laying in bed and feeling frustrated while everyone else is fast asleep. Insomnia doesn't have to take over your life.

Knit or craft: If you're creative, night time is the best time to start a new knitting project or some other type of craft. You can't imagine how much you can get done when you're able to work without the distractions that happen during the day.

Work on a scrapbook: Remember those pictures you organized? You can turn them into a scrapbook. These days you can even create an online scrapbook.

Write a to do list for the next day: At night, you can plan out your schedule for the next day. Write out all the tasks you'd like to complete the next day and also organize them according to priority. 

Clean out 1 drawer: Night time is also a great time to clean out your junk drawer. Perhaps start with your bedside table. Get rid of everything you don't need and hopefully, by the time you're done, you'll be tired enough to fall back asleep.

Ready to begin to sleep at night and kick this insomnia thing? Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation to find out if CBT for insomnia is the right treatment for your insomnia. In just a few weeks insomnia could be a thing of the past. I also provide online sessions for clients throughout California.

Insomnia chronicles: Early morning habits every insomniac should try

If you've struggled with insomnia, then you probably have sleep anxiety. It's no joke. Perhaps you wake up in the middle of the night, while the whole world is sleeping. Or you wake up in the wee hours of the morning, unable to drift off to sleep. I always advise insomniacs to get out of bed after 30 minutes if you cannot fall asleep. There's no point tossing and turning. That increases anxiety. In fact many people who experience sleep disorders often have anxiety about sleep. Here are some activities you could participate in if you're awake super early in the morning.

Pray: If you're religious, prayer is a great way to start off your day. It's nice to be able to pray while the house is silent. No screaming kids, no TV, no distractions. Start the day off feeling connected to God and setting the tone for a great day. It's a lot better than tossing and turning for hours till everyone is awake. Perhaps you can create a small prayer spot for yourself. It'll quickly become a relaxing ritual you can look forward to.

Take the dog for a walk: This is a great time to bond with your pet. Lace up your shoes, grab your leash and go for a short walk around the block. This one has two parts because you'll get some exercise in while bonding with your pet. 

Organize drawers, clothes, shoes: Do you remember those drawers that are filled to the brim with random knick knacks and things you don't need? Well, early morning is a great time to organize them. I'm a big fan of the Konmari Method. If you've never heard about it, it's an organization system by Japanese organization expert, Marie Kondo. It's a simple way to live a minimalist and tidy life. 

Tidy up your bedroom: The morning is the perfect time to tidy up last night's mess. Sometimes we are too tired to clean up after ourselves, so in the morning, you can pick up any clothes that are on the floor, clear up your side table, clean your armoire and ensure that your bedroom is soothing. Remember, a tidy bedroom is a lot more welcoming and sleep inducing than an untidy one.

Get some exercise: I'm no fitness expert, but I've heard it said that when we work out in the morning, our bodies continue to burn calories for a few more hours in the day. So if you can't sleep, go outside and get some early morning sunshine. If it's too hot or too cold for you, go to another room of the house and press play to a workout video. 

Make lunch: While we're on the subject of exercise, early morning is also a good time to prepare your lunch. You can also get everyone else's lunch ready and start your day off right. Don't let all that exercise go to waste.

Do laundry: We all know how fast laundry piles up. If you can't fall asleep, get out of the bed and do 1 load of laundry. It'll have you feeling productive. 

Some other ideas: You can also get ready for the day. Set out your clothes, brush your teeth or even take a shower. If you're up to it, do some light cleaning. Dust the windows and blinds, wipe down the kitchen counters or even mop the floor. Just don't vacuum so you everyone else in your house isn't upset.

And if you'd like to learn a lot more habits to help you sleep, click here to learn more.

There you have it. Lots of great ideas when you're wide awake early in the morning. And if you're tired of being controlled by insomnia, click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consultation to find out if CBT for insomnia treatment in Murrieta can help you get the sleep you so desperately crave. If you live too far away from Murrieta, I also provide online sessions for women throughout California.


Insomnia chronicles: What to do in the evening when you can't sleep

Insomnia is a huge pain. But if you struggle with insomnia, you already know that. But did you know that there are some strategies you could use to help prepare your mind for sleep so that you're not eternally banished to a frustrating night of tossing and turning? Here are some things you could do in the evening to begin to wind down before bedtime. The goal is not necessarily to wear yourself out. The goal is simply to help your mind begin to shut down, so that you can have a relaxing night of sleep.

Listen to slow, relaxing music: In this social media age, most of us have our phones glued to our hands 24 hours of the day. But if you read my previous post about the 5 habits that keep your insomnia going strong, you already know that the blue light that our electronic devices emit, actually prevents our brains from producing the right sleep chemicals at the right time. Translation: Your phone might be preventing you from sleeping. So what should you do to help you wind down at night? Listen to soothing music. The emphasis is on soothing. Ensure that the music does not drum up any difficult feelings of anger, sadness or hurt. The last thing you want is to go to bed feeling enraged or sad. Perhaps something soft and instrumental will help your brain know that it's time to shut off the day's worries, and it will begin to get ready to sleep. If you find yourself drifting off to sleep when you're listening to music, then you know you're on the right track.

Knit, sew or quilt: Yes, I know, very few people actually knit, sew or quilt these days, but these are gentle, relaxing activities that don't take much thought. You want to avoid activities that make you think or worry right before going to bed. Why? Because you'll end up tossing and turning as you ponder all night. The point is you don't want to lay in bed for hours on end before it's your actual bedtime, so find a calming activity to tide you over until it's time to lay in the bed. Avoid just laying in bed for hours on end. Not only is it frustrating, it makes your insomnia worse. And if you absolutely don't knit, sew or quilt, find something else soothing that doesn't involve a TV, phone or tablet. Remember these electronic devices emit blue light that can worsen your insomnia or make it harder for you to sleep.

Organize old books, pictures and clothes: Insomnia and other sleep disorders are tricky. You might feel exhausted during the day, but then when it's finally time to sleep at night, you lay wide awake. So instead of dragging yourself to bed at 6pm, stay up a little longer and do something productive. Organize old books, pictures or maybe even your closet. If you're a fan of Marie Kondo- the great organizing queen- then you know all about how to fold and tidy up. And if you've never heard of Marie Kondo, just do a quick Google search to find out how to tidy up your entire home. The bonus part of tidying up is that a tidy bedroom actually helps you feel more relaxed. And a relaxed mind is the perfect recipe for good sleep.

Take a bath or a shower: In an ideal world, your body temperature should rise in the morning when the sun comes up. This triggers your brain to wake up. Your temperature climbs steadily until evening time, when the sun goes down. After the sun sets, your body temperature begins to fall. This signals your body to begin to release melatonin, which helps you sleep. To help you get ready to sleep, try taking a cool shower. Of course, nothing too chilly- you don't want to catch a cold. Perhaps a warm shower to help your body temperature begin to drop. If you're a fan of baths, get some relaxing music, a few drops of essential oils, grab a good book, and soak in the tub. This will help you forget the worries of the day and prepare your body for sleep.

Make your lunch for the next day: And if you absolutely cannot quiet your mind after taking a shower, you might as well begin to prep for the next day. Evening time is a great time to pack lunches for the kids, cut up vegetables for the next day or even prep breakfast for the next day. When you wake up the next morning with lots of free time on your hands, your body will thank you.

And if you'd like to learn a lot more habits to help you sleep, click here to learn more about 5 habits that could help you sleep.

What do you like to do in the evening to keep insomnia away? And if you're a woman struggling with insomnia, click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call to see if CBT for insomnia treatment in Murrieta is the right one for you. In as little as 2 months, you can go from frustrated insomniac to sleeping like a log. I also provide online sessions to women throughout California. Call now.

Are your thoughts making your insomnia worse?

Insomnia can sometimes turn evenings into the dreaded time. As night approaches, you begin to think to yourself "Great! Now I'm going to spend my time laying awake instead of sleeping like everyone else." You might find yourself avoiding the bedroom or even delaying sleep because you know you're going to have a tough time falling asleep. It isn't uncommon for people with sleep disorders like insomnia to stay up much later than normal- not because they can't fall asleep, but because they believe they won't fall asleep. So they don't even bother going into the bedroom or creating a good nighttime routine. 

Well, these negative sleep thoughts actually worsen your insomnia. It's all because your thoughts affect the way you feel, and your feelings also affect your behavior. This means that if you think negatively about sleep, it'll create negative feelings about sleep- thus, you'll continue to struggle with insomnia. It's a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

Sounds easy enough right?

Negative sleep thoughts are pretty much inaccurate thoughts about sleep. But even though these negative sleep thoughts are inaccurate, you believe them so much that they become the truth in your life.  It doesn't mean that you don't have insomnia, it just means that your thoughts about your sleep patterns are most likely wrong, therefore creating negative feelings about sleep. When you replay these negative thoughts about sleep in your mind all day long, they create a negative stress response in your body, which stimulates a wakefulness response and now it keeps you awake.

In a nutshell, your thoughts are keeping you awake!

The negative thoughts you have when you wake up in the morning also do a great job at souring your mood all day. So when you say to yourself, "Great! I only got 4 hours of sleep. I'm going to be tired all day." You're actually triggering a stress response in your body and you're ensuring that you will actually be tired all day.

To change those negative sleep thoughts, it's important to understand sleep and insomnia better. Now, excuse me while I drop some science on you. It's important to understand a little bit of the science so you can correct it. This is the super important part. Here are some actual facts about sleep:

  • Studies show that most adults need 7 hours of sleep per night- not 8. 

  • Longer sleep times are actually correlated with higher levels of obesity. Plus a lack of sleep isn't leading to weight gain. It's what you do when you're awake that leads to weight gain (snacking, sitting on the couch and other sedentary activities).

  • If you're not falling asleep at work or at school during the day, chances are you might not need more sleep than you're already getting.

  • Moderate sleep loss does not really impair daytime performance. So your life won't be ruined if you lose a few hours of sleep here and there.

  • When you start to change the way you think about sleep, this could actually lessen the stress response that is keeping you awake.

  • You only need about 5.5 hours of sleep to maintain good performance. It's called 'core sleep.' This doesn't mean you should aim for 5.5 hours of sleep every night. But if you manage to average 5.5 hours of sleep, your body won't be too angry. If you need a specific number of hours to aim for, the magic number is 7. It just means that on those nights when you didn't get much sleep, you can remind yourself that you're probably getting your 'core sleep.'

  • Most insomniacs underestimate the amount of sleep they think they're getting. This means you are probably getting more sleep than you think and your body is probably getting more rest than you know.

With these facts in hand, it's time to start changing the way you think about sleep. When you wake up in the morning, instead of thinking negatively, remind yourself of these things:

  • "I probably got more sleep than I thought."

  • "My body really only needs 5.5 hours of sleep to maintain good performance."

  • "I can always make up for lost sleep tonight."

  • "Moderate sleep loss won't affect me too much."

And if you need someone to guide you through a research based insomnia treatment that doesn't require medications or machines, CBT for Insomnia might be the right sleep disorder treatment for you. Click here to read my previous blog post- “What exactly is CBT for Insomnia.” In as little as 6 to 8 weeks, insomnia can be a thing of the past for you. Click here to schedule a free consultation call so that we can decide together if CBT for insomnia is right for you. You can also call me at 951-905-3181 to find out how CBT for insomnia can help you sleep again. Think about it. In as little as 6-8 weeks, you could be sleeping like a baby. I provide insomnia treatment in Murrieta as well as online. 


5 Habits to help manage your insomnia

Insomnia can really be a real pain. Tossing and turning before you're able to fall asleep is very aggravating. Perhaps you've tried sleeping pills, but maybe you don't want to have to take a pill before you get some shut eye. Well, here are a few tips to help you drift off to sleep faster:

1) Create a restful nighttime routine: Many of us come back home from work in the evening, then continue to be busy, and then try to fall asleep after that. Your body needs to gradually transition from busy mode to rest mode. Your body needs a sign that it's time to begin to release the melatonin you need to become sleepy. Create a solid calming night time routine for yourself. This sleepy time routine is a great way to send your body that signal it needs. Choose any activity that feels soothing to you. It could include relaxing with a nice book, listening to some soothing music, drinking a cup of caffeine free tea (caffeine will keep you up, so avoid this at night), soaking in the tub or doing a light stretch. It doesn't really matter which activity you choose- as long as it's relaxing and calm. 

2) Exercise at the right time: I'm sure by now you've heard that you need to exercise for about  30 minutes a day to keep you healthy. Well, did you also know that exercising 3 to 6 hours before bed time could actually improve your sleep? Well, it's partly because there is a correlation between your body temperature and your sleep cycles. An average sleeper has a higher body temperature during the day and a lower body temperature in the evening. Exercise helps increase your body temperature- and of course it helps your body release endorphins (happy hormones). So not only would exercising at the right times help regulate your body temperature, it could also boost your mood. A win win for sure.

3) Keep your home cool in the evening: When your body temperature begins to fall in the evening, it signals your body to produce melatonin- the sleep hormone. However, if your body temperature is still too high, your body doesn't know that it's supposed to prepare for sleep. To give your body a competitive edge, ensure that your home is cool in the evenings so that your body temperature can also fall to the appropriate level. So, a warm body signals your brain to wake up, and a cool body signals the brain to begin to shut down for the night. 

4) Make your bedroom cozy and inviting: You work hard all day, and then you completely ignore the little things when you get back home. Your bedroom should be a place of relaxation. Think of it like your own personal spa. When you walk into a spa, the light is usually dim, it's quiet, it smells great and the temperature is nice and cool. It doesn't have to cost you much to recreate that effect. Make sure your sheets and clean, get a bottle of essential oils to get you relaxed (lavender is usually a great choice), dim your lights in the evening and maybe even play sounds of nature or some other relaxing sound. The goal is to create a comfortable environment so that your mind begins to relax the moment you walk into your bedroom. If your bedroom is cluttered and messy, chances are you won't find it relaxing enough to sleep- especially if you're already struggling with insomnia.

5) Avoid electronics an hour before bedtime: I know we are the social media generation. While social media is a great way to socialize and learn the latest gossip, those phone screens do nothing good for insomnia. Phones, tablets and televisions all emit blue light. Blue light disrupts the production of melatonin- the sleep hormone. Without an appropriate level of melatonin in your body you just won't be able to sleep well. If you phone or tablet becomes a temptation, try storing it away from your bed. Don't keep it on your nightstand- as it's too easy to reach in the middle of the night Some people even keep their phones in another room so that they don't reach for it in the middle of the night.

And if you'd like to learn a lot more habits to help you sleep, click here to learn more.

Now that you know 5 easy steps to manage your insomnia, start implementing them and let me know how it goes. If you're ready to finally kick insomnia out of your life, click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call to see if CBT for Insomnia is the right treatment for your sleep problems. You can also call me at 951-905-3181 to find out how CBT for insomnia can help you sleep again. Remember, there is help for your insomnia, you just have to reach out. I also offer online sessions for clients throughout California.

What exactly is CBT for Insomnia?

Most people know what insomnia is. About 30 percent of people will struggle with insomnia at some point in their lives. If you're not familiar with insomnia, count yourself lucky. Unfortunately your quality of sleep tends to worsen with age. Well, insomnia is simply difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. To make it more specific, most insomniacs or people who struggle with sleep problems, lay awake for more than 30 minutes per night before they're able to drift off to sleep. Some lay awake for as long as 1 to 2 hours each night. Others are able to fall asleep just fine, but for some reason, they wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to drift back to sleep within 30 minutes. So typically, 30 minutes is the benchmark we use. If you find yourself laying awake for more than 30 minutes multiple nights a week, for a month or more, then you most likely have chronic insomnia.

Many insomnia sufferers typically go to their physician for help, and they are prescribed either a sleep medication or a benzodiazepine. It all depends on whatever your doctor deems necessary. However, some people do not want to take medications, or they find the side effects of these sleeping pills to be too uncomfortable, so they opt for another type of treatment. Enter Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia or CBT for Insomnia. It's also known as CBT-I.

It's a 6 to 8 week treatment that targets your sleep thoughts, your sleep environment, your sleep habits and you learn relaxation techniques to help you sleep better. It also helps you taper down any sleep medications you might be on (with the approval of your physician of course). The premise of CBT for insomnia is that the thoughts that roam around your head when you're trying to fall asleep affect your feelings about sleep, and ultimately your behaviors concerning sleep. Here's a quick breakdown of what the treatment looks like.

Session 1- Learning about sleep and changing your sleep thoughts

When you have insomnia, you typically live with the anxiety that arises every evening. When the rest of your loved ones are winding down, your mind begins to race as you wonder how frustrating your night is about to get. During the first session, we work on how to fight those negative sleep thoughts and transform them into more positive sleep thoughts. You'll also learn more about sleep patterns so you know what's normal and what's not.

Session 2- Sleep medications and scheduling your sleep

In session 2, we'll talk more about the medications you're taking and your plan to taper them down, if that's what you choose. We'll also set a simple sleep schedule for you to follow each day of the week.

Session 3- Stimulus Control

In session 3 we'll introduce you to relaxation exercises, we'll continue to track and adjust your sleep schedule, and we'll dig deeper into your thought process. We also focus on your bedroom environment- what to avoid, and what to embrace. We discuss what exactly to do when you're having a hard time falling asleep.

Session 4- Relaxation

We practice different relaxation exercises to help you create a calm environment and get your mind prepared to shut down at night time. We also continually review the progress you've made thus far.

Session 5- Sleep hygiene 

Sleep hygiene is a funny phrase that simply means dos and don'ts of sleep. We focus on ways to cultivate good sleep habits during the day, as well as behaviors to avoid so that your insomnia doesn't worsen. By this session, you should see a definite improvement in your sleep.

Booster sessions

Some clients need more than 5 sessions, while others are completely satisfied with their progress after 5 sessions. Sometimes clients come back after a few weeks to ensure that they are on the right track. This is totally normal.

If you want to learn the benefits of CBT for insomnia, click here to read more.

So, if you're ready to kick insomnia out of your life for good, and finally know what it feels like to sleep soundly night after night, click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call to see if CBT for insomnia is right for you. You can also call me at 951-905-3181 to find out how CBT for insomnia can help you sleep again in as little as 5 sessions. If you do not live in the Temecula/Murrieta area and you’d like to sleep better, I also provide online treatments for insomnia within California.

5 Benefits of CBT for Insomnia

It is estimated by the National Institutes of Health that about 30 percent of the general population have some struggles with sleep. That equals to millions of people who can't fall asleep or stay asleep every single day. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT for Insomnia or CBT-I) is one of the leading treatments for insomnia in the United States. If you're considering getting some help for your sleep struggles, here are some of the benefits of CBT for Insomnia.

If you want to find out more about CBT for Insomnia treatment in Murrieta, click here.

Short term treatment: No one wants to go through months or years of treatment before there is a solution to their sleep or insomnia problem. The great thing about CBT for Insomnia is that treatment is complete in as little as 6 to 8 weeks. That's it! No gimmicks, no injections, no magic tricks. If you actually follow the plan that is laid before you by your therapist or sleep specialist, you can find relief in less than 2 months. CBT for Insomnia is actually based off of years of research. It's been researched and/or used by Harvard University, The US Department of Veterans Affairs, The Mayo Clinic, Stanford Medicine, amongst others. If the plan is followed closely, you'll actually experience relief.

CBT for Insomnia could help you get off sleeping pills: No one likes to take sleeping pills. Typically, people take them because they think it's their only option. However, the problem with sleeping pills is that they don't actually cure insomnia. They might help you fall asleep for the night, but then the next night, you'll have to take yet another one. This happens night after night, until your body starts to become dependent on the sleep medication. So what starts off as a harmless pill to help you go to sleep, might actually end up in a near addiction. During your CBT-I treatment, your therapist will work closely with your prescribing physician so that you can be safely tapered off of sleep medications. 

Works on improving your core negative sleep thoughts: Anyone who has ever struggled with insomnia or any other sleep disorder, knows that night time is dreadful. Your mind begins to fill with thoughts such as "I hate my bedroom." "I cannot believe I'm just laying here tossing and turning." "If I don't get enough sleep tonight I'm going to be exhausted tomorrow." The truth is, these thoughts don't actually cause insomnia-like some people erroneously think- the thoughts are simply triggered by laying awake in discomfort for hours. 

When you work with a therapist who is trained in CBT for Insomnia, you'll learn how to challenge these negative sleep thoughts and replace them with more realistic, positive sleep thoughts. The principle is simple. Your thoughts directly affect your feelings, which then affect your behavior. So if you have negative thoughts about sleep, you become frustrated or sad at night, which then maintains your insomnia. But once you learn how to change those thoughts, your feelings about sleep become more positive, you look forward to night time, and your body becomes much more relaxed- enabling you to sleep better. 

Can be customized to meet your needs: CBT-I is a customized process. When you begin your treatment, your therapist will take a thorough assessment to figure out what your sleep patterns are, what your environment looks like, what your typical schedule is, as well as other emotional factors that might be affecting you. Based on your honest responses, you'll both work together to come up with a weekly plan of action to help you improve your insomnia. It's never a one size fits all approach.

Sleep plan is very easy to follow: After your initial assessment with your therapist, you'll work with him or her to come up with a weekly plan of action. Each day, you'll spend about 5 minutes working on the sleep plan. It's easy to follow- even for those with very busy schedules or chronic insomnia struggles.

If you have been struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep for 2 to 3 nights a week, for over a month, you might have insomnia. Click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call to see if CBT for Insomnia treatment in Murrieta is right for you. You can also call 951-905-3181 to find out more about how CBT for Insomnia could help you sleep in as little as 5 sessions. Don't let insomnia take over your life. You can get relief. If you are too far away from the Murrieta or Temecula area, I also offer online sessions within California.