insomnia treatment Temecula

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. 

 

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.

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.



Could CBT for Insomnia be the solution to your insomnia woes?

Insomnia is experienced by about 3 million people in the US alone. It often is accompanied by a bit of anxiety and frustration. Sleep becomes an ugly word and the bedroom is thought of as a dreaded place. Insomnia is especially difficult because a lack of sleep can lead to negative mood, reduced concentration during the day and even some grogginess. Sleep loss actually fatigues the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. this simply means it has a negative effect in the actual brain structure. 

Traditional insomnia treatments often include the use of benzodiazepines or sleeping pills, which often come with side effects or a risk of dependency. Plus the truth is these pills don't actually cure insomnia- they merely treat the symptoms on a day to day basis. Click here to read my previous blog post Insomnia and sleep Insomnia chronicles: The scary truth about those sleeping pills you take

What if you're looking for an insomnia treatment without the use of pills? Enter Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I is a 6 to 8-week treatment for people who struggle with insomnia. It's useful in both men and women- regardless of age or the amount of years you've struggled with sleep problems. 

It involves a weekly meeting with a therapist or sleep specialist who is trained in CBT-I to discuss a tailored treatment plan for you. Understand that if you do not follow through with your sleep plan, CBT-I will not work for you. But if you collaborate with your therapist and follow through each day, over the course of as little as 6 weeks, you will see a drastic improvement in your sleeping patterns. All the research actually shows that CBT-I is more effective than sleeping pills. Read more about CBT for Insomnia here.

CBT-I has been tagged as the most effective treatment for any adult mental health problem. It's been sanctioned by: 

  • The Mayo Clinic

  • Stanford Health Care

  • Harvard Health

  • The Veterans Health Administration 

CBT for insomnia involves an initial assessment by a therapist or sleep specialist. During this assessment we'll go over all the details of your insomnia, and we will also rule out causes of your insomnia such as stress, trauma, anxiety, depression, among many other factors.

You'll also meet with your therapist 5 more times. The first 3 sessions are weekly, and the last 2 are biweekly. If you need additional sessions or a booster after a few months, that could also be arranged.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist who provides counseling and therapy to women with anxiety, I also provide insomnia treatment in Murrieta using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). For women within California who are too far away from the Murrieta, Temecula or Menifee, I provide insomnia treatment online.

CBT for Insomnia (or CBT-I) is a 6 to 8 week treatment for people who struggle with insomnia. It's the first line insomnia treatment in the USA and it is highly recommended by sleep researchers and sleep experts. Click here to schedule your free 15 minute consultation call so that insomnia can be a thing of the past. 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.

Insomnia and sleep chronicles: The scary truth about those sleeping pills you take

Insomnia sucks. Something as simple as sleep becomes elusive. You do everything you can to get some sleep, but nothing works. So you head over to your primary care physician and he prescribes you a sleeping pill. You take it one day and it seems to work. So you begin to pop a sleeping pill every night. One year later, it is part of your routine. You put your pajamas on, get some water, swallow your pill and drift off to sleep. However, there are some scary facts about sleeping pills you don't know.

1) They are not tested for long term use: When your doctor or physician writes that prescription for Ambien or Lunesta, his expectation is that you only take it as needed. As needed means taking it every once in a while- not every day or twice a day. Truth is that these sleeping pills haven't actually been tested for every day use. So who really knows the long term side effects of these seemingly harmless pills that you're popping each day? Pretty scary.

2) You might be overdosing yourself: Let's get sciencey (I know it's not a real word). Well, the half life of a substance, is the amount of time it takes for half the amount of that substance to be metabolized or eliminated from your body. With sleep medications, many of them remain in your system when you take your next dose. So for example, the half life of Ativan and Xanax is 12 hours. So it means it takes 12 hours for half the dose to be eliminated in your body. It means that if you take 1 Xanax at 7pm, by 7am the next morning, half of the dose is still swimming around in your system. So if you take another Xanax shortly after, you might have more of the dose than you need. When you take it day after day, you're layering the medication in your system.

3) Sleep medications can be more dangerous for women and the elderly: For some strange reason, these sleeping medications metabolize (get eliminated) slower at night, in women, and in the elderly. So as a woman, when you take sleep medications at night, it gets absorbed a lot slower than a man who took one during the day. Very few people actually take sleep medications during the day, so think about it. In the elderly there is also a greater risk for slip and falls due to the impaired next day coordination these sleeping pills could cause. 

4) There is a risk of dependency:  Physicians prescribe sleep medications as needed for a reason. When these pills are used over a long period of time, your body actually begins to depend on it. This means after a while, you don't get great quality sleep if you haven't taken your sleeping pill that night.

5) Sleeping pills don't cure insomnia:  What's the point of taking sleeping pills night after night if your insomnia is not going to go away? Many people take medication with the hope that the root cause of their sleep disorder will be solved. But in the case os insomnia medication, your insomnia doesn't get cured. What you're doing is essentially putting a small bandage on a big problem.

So before you rush to your physician for a magic pill, remember that sleeping pills aren't necessarily a cure all. 

 As a licensed marriage and family therapist who provides counseling and therapy to women with anxiety, I also provide insomnia treatment in Murrieta for women with insomnia using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I).  Find out more about CBT-I in this other blog post- Could CBT for Insomnia be the solution to your insomnia woes?

70-80 percent of individuals who undergo CBT-I treatment for insomnia experience vast improvement in their sleep. For women within California who are too far away from the Murrieta, Temecula or Menifee areas, I provide CBT for insomnia treatment online. CBT-I is a 5 to 8 week treatment for people who struggle with insomnia. It's the first line insomnia treatment in the USA and it is highly recommended by sleep researchers and experts. 

Click here to schedule your free 15 minute consultation call so that insomnia can be a thing of the past. 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.

Remember, if you are within California, but you are not in the Murrieta/Temecula area, I also provide CBT for insomnia treatment online.

5 habits that keep your insomnia going strong

Your least favorite time of the day is night time. While the world is fast asleep, you spend your time tossing and turning. Perhaps you just lay in bed and try to count sheep, but after doing this for months- or maybe even years- it's aggravating.

Or perhaps you actually fall asleep like a baby each night, but the moment you wake up to sip some water or go to the bathroom, you lose the urge to sleep. You've done several Google searches to help you curb your insomnia, but nothing has worked. You've tried downloading every app, but it only works for a short while.

What if I told you that you that your habits could be making your sleep disorder worse? Perhaps your insomnia is actually caused by some of your habits. Well today is your lucky day. Here are 5 habits you need to stop to restore your sleep and improve your insomnia.

1) Taking your electronics with you to bed: These days our gadgets are almost an extension of us. We take our phones with us to the gym, to the store, to the bedroom and even to the bathroom (you know you do this). However these laptops, phones and tablets that are so dear to us emit blue light. The blue light actually sends a signal to your brain and tells it to reduce its production of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that helps you maintain your sleep cycle. With this reduced production of melatonin, your sleep cycle is off and your body will think it needs to sleep less.

The solution: To make your life easier, just turn off your electronics about 1 hour before bedtime. If you feel like you absolutely can't do it, just keep them out of arm's reach.

2) Drinking coffee or caffeine all day long: Most people who struggle with sleep problems or insomnia drink quite a lot of coffee or other caffeinated beverages to help manage the grogginess and sour mood they experience in the morning. However, caffeine has a half life of approximately 5 hours. This means it takes 5 hours for your body to completely get rid of half the amount of caffeine you drank. So if you're drinking more than 1 cup of coffee a day, you're pretty much layering the effects of caffeine in your system.

The solution: To get good quality sleep, limit caffeine intake to no more than 1 or 2 cups in the morning. After noon, stay away from coffee, energy drinks and any other stimulant. This will give your body time to get rid of it completely before night time.

3) Staying in bed when you can't sleep: Many people with insomnia remain in bed for hours when they can't sleep. They'll toss and turn for hours. What this does is it sends a message to your brain that the bedroom is a place of anguish. Your bedroom should really be your vacation spot. When you walk in, you should think "I cannot wait to lay on my comfy bed." Not, "Ugh! My awful bedroom again." When you have negative thoughts about your bedroom, it'll sour your feelings and ruin your sleep pattern.

The solution: If you can't sleep after 30 minutes of laying in bed, get up. Go over to another room, do something relaxing for 30 minutes, then return to bed. Whatever you do, DO NOT pick up any electronics. Remember that blue light is exposure is bad for melatonin production.

4) Working in your room: I'm very guilty of this. I love my room so much that it's my favorite place to think and write. No I'm not writing this post from my bed. When it comes to sleep, it's important to trick your brain. The ideal scenario is to work somewhere else, wind down an hour before bed, then come into your room about 30 minutes before bed time. So the brain automatically knows that it should begin to shut down once you step into the bedroom. But when you work and use your laptop while in your bed, your brain doesn't know that it should shut down. The bedroom becomes a trigger for brain activity, rather than brain rest. You get it?

The solution: Use your bedroom for relaxing activities only. Don't do any writing, intense TV watching, talking on the phone, arguing, or anything upsetting in your bedroom. Use it as your sanctuary.

5) Sleeping in on the weekends: Many people make up for lost sleep over the weekend. They'll go to bed extra late, then get up at noon. The problem is if you sleep in 2 days in a row, that's enough to disrupt your sleep pattern. Your body needs to know when to produce adenosine (the hormone that's responsible for your wake up cycle), and when to start producing melatonin (the sleep hormone). If you aren't being exposed to sunlight, your body won't know to keep you awake, then by Monday you'll end up groggy when you should be alert.

The solution: Don't sleep in for more than an hour on the weekends. If you typically get up at 6am during the week, you should be up and out of bed by 7am. This helps your body maintain a regular sleep-wake pattern.

And if you would like to learn about some other habits to help you sleep, here is a list of habits to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

Read more about how your thoughts could also affect insomnia and sleep here.

Those are your first few steps in beginning to retrain your brain so that your insomnia can be a thing of the past. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist who provides counseling and therapy to women with anxiety. I also provide insomnia treatment in Murrieta using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). For women within California who are too far away from the Murrieta, Temecula or Menifee areas, I provide insomnia treatment online.

CBT-I is a 5 to 8 week treatment for people who struggle with insomnia. It's the first line insomnia treatment in the USA and it is highly recommended by sleep researchers and experts. Click here to schedule your free 15 minute consultation call so that insomnia can be a thing of the past.

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.