help for insomnia Murrieta

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.

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.