• There’s No Such Thing as an Insomnia Monster – Trust that You’re in Charge

    My patients with chronic insomnia often feel that their insomnia is out of control, as if they’re at the mercy of an outside force. The truth is, since chronic insomnia is caused by our thoughts and behaviors, we can control our ability to sleep by the choices we make. Of the top five causes of sleep disorders, four are within our control:

    • Thoughts and Worries:  The number one cause of chronic insomnia is negative thoughts and stress about sleep.  You can control your mind and thoughts. Hey – it’s your mind; you own it!
    • Environment:  It’s hard to transition from a stressful, busy day to the calm, quiet space that fosters good sleep. Make a deliberate choice to put down electronic devices and worries, and create a sleep-supportive environment. Otherwise, daytime anxieties will give way to the endless cycle of anxiety about sleeplessness.
    • Lifestyle: To sleep comfortably at night, make the right choices during the day to build strong sleep drive. Avoid daytime naps and coffee after dinner, but do get lots of light and movement during the day.
    • Stress Response: When you’re stressed, your body’s cortisol and adrenaline levels accumulate. To avoid bringing higher levels of stress hormones into bed with you, take time out during the day to practice relaxation response exercises like meditation and breathing. By de-activating the stress response, you’ll fall asleep faster.

    Here are the organic health issues that contribute to insomnia that we can’t control. If you have signs of these, you must see a sleep specialist:

    • Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious condition that can damage your internal organs and must be treated. Your heart will thank you for it! Primary signs are loud snoring and feeling like you’re gasping for air when trying to sleep during the night.
    • Restless Leg Syndrome and Periodic Leg Movements are also conditions that require medical attention.

    If you have chronic insomnia, and don’t have either of the organic health issues above, a course of CBT for Insomnia (CBT-I) will support you through regaining control of your sleep systems, and banishing the insomnia monster for good!

    Emily is a seasoned psychotherapist who specializes in treating insomnia and anxiety. She’s a complete sleep geek, and loves to help people find their sleep sweet spot. Contact Emily if sleep is a problem for you – she will help.