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How Jake got his sleep back on track by changing his nighttime behaviors and his daytime behaviors (#30)

Listen to the podcast episode (audio only)

When COVID led to Jake having to work from home he found himself working way beyond the usual nine to five. Jake found himself answering calls and texts at all hours of the day and even started to take his computer to bed.

Work soon encroached into his weekends and before long, Jake found that he no longer had any kind of sleep schedule. When he took a vacation he found it really hard to get any sleep at all and this led to a lot of sleep-related research, a lot of anxiety, and a lot of worry.

Fortunately, Jake’s sleep recovered — but only for a few weeks. Then, his insomnia returned and was even worse than before. Jake thought that his sleep was broken and that something was wrong with him.

The good news is, there’s no real mystery when it comes to insomnia — from person to person, insomnia is remarkably similar. It’s often our relationship with our thoughts and the behaviors we might implement in a bid to improve our sleep that provide insomnia with the oxygen it needs to survive.

As Jake learned more about sleep and insomnia he implemented evidence-based techniques to help build sleep drive, strengthen his body clock, and weaken arousal. He started to spend less time in bed, he got out of bed during the night if being in bed didn’t feel good, and — perhaps most importantly of all — he tried to live the kind of life he wanted to live during the day, independently of how he slept.

Now, Jake’s life doesn’t revolve around sleep and he no longer tries to control sleep or put effort into sleep. As a result, he is sleeping a lot better and has regained confidence in his natural ability to sleep.

Click here for a full transcript of this episode.

Martin Reed:
Welcome to the Insomnia Coach Podcast. My name is Martin Reed. I believe that nobody needs to live with chronic insomnia and that evidence-based cognitive and behavioral techniques can help you enjoy better sleep for the rest of your life.

Martin Reed:
The content of this podcast is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, disorder, or medical condition. It should never replace any advice given to you by your physician or any other licensed healthcare provider. Insomnia Coach LLC offers coaching services only and does not provide therapy, counseling, medical advice, or medical treatment. The statements and opinions expressed by guests are their own and are not necessarily endorsed by Insomnia Coach LLC. All content is provided “as is” and without warranties, either express or implied.

Martin Reed:
Hi, Jake, thank you for taking the time out of your day to come on to the podcast.

Jake Zandi:
Oh, thanks for having me, Martin. I’m very happy to be here today.

Martin Reed:
It’s great to have you on. Let’s start right at the beginning. When did your sleep problems first begin and what do you think caused your initial issues with sleep?

Jake Zandi:
Well, so we’ve all been going through this pandemic for the past, I think it’s over a year now since it’s hit the States. Yeah, I was doing pretty good with work and everything like that, working at an actual physical location. Once the pandemic hit, I think it was like in March of last year, I was told to go home. I actually just started the job probably two weeks prior to that. So, I had never really worked from home before and that’s something I’ve never really had to do. So, I didn’t really know, at first, I didn’t really have the discipline, you know what I mean? Of working just nine to five like my old job was.

Jake Zandi:
So, I got caught in, I want to say, probably bad sleep habits. This is what really first started happening to me. I was going to bed late because I would take work with me. I would take the computer with me into bed, which is a big no-no. I was answering phone calls or text messages in all hours of the day. So, basically, my nine to five turned into, when I wake up I start working until I go to sleep and in between intermittently. So, I was good for probably a few months. I was doing this working whenever. Unfortunately though, it started to bleed into my weekends.

Jake Zandi:
So, working from home ended up being on my weekends when I was trying to relax. I didn’t really have the downtime that you usually have from just nine to five, Monday through Friday. So, I just started working a lot and I think what happened was I was getting stressed out from work. I don’t blame anyone but myself on this one, because it was just me not having that discipline of, you know what, if I get a text message or if I get an email after work, work hours or whatever, I should just let it go and get to it in the morning.

Jake Zandi:
But I didn’t have that discipline and I wasn’t getting up early and I would sleep longer and longer, until before you know it, my whole internal clock was off. I ended up going on a vacation. I lived in the north east, so we went up to Maine for the weekend. I went with my fiance. We stayed in the hotel room and I guess what threw me off was I getting work text messages and all the stuff on Friday night into Saturday and I was like, “Oh, man, I told her I was going on vacation for the weekend.” But that ended up throwing me off a little bit.

Jake Zandi:
I didn’t think anything of it, but for some reason, that Friday or yeah, it was that Friday night I didn’t sleep at all when we got to the hotel. I slept like probably, well, I can’t say I didn’t sleep at all, but I probably slept like two hours. I thought, “Well, that wasn’t fun. Hopefully, I’ll be good for the whole day and I’m on vacation, so I want to really enjoy this weekend.” Then, it went to that next night, it went to that next night, and again, I slept like two or three hours, and I was like, “What is going on? This has never happened before.” So, I start to think about it more than usual.

Jake Zandi:
I’ve had, like anyone, a bad night sleep and I was even in the military and I used to do 24 hour shifts and stuff like that and never thought twice about having difficulty sleeping. But now, it’s just like, I don’t know, I freaked out a little bit. I started researching things. I was like, “How come I’ve had a couple of bad night sleep?” I just didn’t really identify that it was maybe me being stressed with work and being just in a situation where there’s just a lot going on in the world, there’s a lot of anxiety right now. We’re still living it. But yeah, it ended up snowballing into something that was pretty crazy.

Jake Zandi:
I ended up having like a week’s night or a week of bad sleep after that. I was freaking out. So, I went on YouTube, I was Googling all these things and how to sleep better, and how to fix sleep problems. It ended up being really … It became very stressful. Like I said, I’ve never worried about sleep ever in my life. I love sleeping. I’d consider myself a good sleeper again, but I was very distraught. I didn’t know what was going on. A lot of the stuff that I found online would freak me out. It’d say, if you don’t get good sleep, you’re going to have higher risk of cancer, or higher risk of cardiovascular disease and all of this stuff.

Jake Zandi:
So, I started becoming a little bit of a hypochondriac as well. It just really blew out of proportion. I was basically keeping myself awake and I was feeding insomnia with all these thoughts and ideas and what ifs, but it’s where it all went down hill and it stayed that way for a while.

Martin Reed:
So, when you first had those really difficult nights when you’re away on vacation, did it seem obvious to you why those hard nights were happening? For example, you’re getting into bed and then just finding your mind was freaking out about work or something like that, or was it just you couldn’t come up with any explanation? You were just finding it really hard to sleep whilst you were away?

Jake Zandi:
It was a little bit of both. It was a little bit I think it was because I was stressed out that I wasn’t able to sleep, but it was kind of, “All right, enough is enough. How come my mind isn’t shutting off?” Do you know what I mean? I wasn’t really able to come down from all these anxiety. Then, before you know it, I feel like the anxiety of work and all these other stuff, they almost transformed into, I don’t know if that’s the word, but it turned into basically this worry about sleep. Then, I really didn’t worry about all the other stuff anymore.

Jake Zandi:
I was like, “I’d get to that when I get to that.” I’m worried about what’s going on now, and it was just feeding it. It was a vicious cycle, like a dog chasing its tail. I don’t really know how to explain it. It was just, I could not get out of it. So, it got really scary.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, I think a lot of people will identify with that, like the dog chasing its tail, because as soon as we start to worry about sleep, that does tend to, unfortunately, make sleep more difficult. Then, sleep becomes more difficult. So, then we quite naturally worry even more about sleep. It just becomes this vicious cycle that you can just feel so trapped in. It just seems like there’s no way out.

Jake Zandi:
Yeah, I think another thing is, the harder I tried to sleep the further it got away. I couldn’t get sleep because I was trying so hard to sleep that it became … I’d be awake all day and try not to take any nap just in case, so I could make sure that the night was good. It was difficult. I couldn’t even really take naps either, because I was so worried. I was just so anxiety ridden, I guess you could say. I had never really experienced that. So, it was quite bizarre, quite bizarre.

Martin Reed:
Yeah. So, when you returned home from the trip, what was your sleep looking like at that point? How would you describe a typical night at that point?

Jake Zandi:
Yeah, so a typical night was, I’d worry all day. Then, getting home it was just, that night I got back from the trip, it wasn’t a good night sleep. It was me worrying about, “Hey, will I get a good night sleep tonight?” I think that was really the first night where I just really started to worry about the sleep and kind of freaked out about everything else. I would go to bed and then just lay there. I think what ended up happening was, and I’ll get more on this subject later, but I would end up going to sleep earlier than I used to. I’d be in bed earlier, and I’d try to sleep earlier.

Jake Zandi:
That would just in turn make it harder. I would lay in bed, like I said, I take nine hours and I’d usually sleep about seven to eight. That was my normal sleep cycle. I was just trying to catch up on the sleep, like hopefully it will just happen if I just lay here long enough. It ended up just being even worse. I think it honestly exacerbated it and made it so much worse than it was, was me trying to lay in bed. I was only getting three or four hours those first few nights being home. It was rough. Until I did eventually end up having normal sleep.

Jake Zandi:
I don’t know if something came up or whatever, but I forgot about all these issues. Oh, I didn’t forget about it, but it was like less and less and then I felt better. I think it just took one good night of sleep where I slept nine hours or something like that. Once I got that nine hours, it was like, boom, I’m reset, I’m good, no issues. There’s nothing wrong with me and I was good for about two weeks, or I think it might have been three. So, I was good for two or three weeks. Then, before you know it, boom, I had a bad night. Then, that bad night turned into more bad nights.

Jake Zandi:
Then, it was worse than before. It was like three or four weeks. It was just terrible. Most nights I was struggling to fall asleep. I’d have that occasional night where I got a good night sleep, but for me, it was mostly I could not, for the life of me, fall asleep because my mind was racing. I was wired and I just couldn’t slow down and relax, and it was bad.

Martin Reed:
Yeah. I think a lot of people listening to this are going to identify with every now and then you seem to get that good night. It might not be fantastic, or it might be, but you tend to get these other nights that are actually pretty good. You think, why are these not happening every single night? But the typical explanation, and there’s no real mystery to it. Most sleep disruption is happening or is being sustained because of the arousal system. We’re more worried about sleep or we’re paying a lot of attention to sleep, maybe putting a lot of effort into sleep, trying, striving.

Martin Reed:
This makes sleep more difficult, so we get less sleep. But when we get less sleep, our sleep pressure, that drive the sleep, the body wants to sleep, that urge to sleep becomes stronger and stronger. So, we can’t go indefinitely with no sleep, for example, sleep always happen in the end. So, when we have those better nights, it’s because our sleep drive has just reached its tipping point where it’s so strong, it’s overpowering all that arousal, all that anxiety, all that worry, all that effort, all that striving, so sleep happens.

Martin Reed:
But unfortunately, then you’re back at square one because now that sleep drive is being relieved, so your arousal system is back in charge and it puts you back onto that cycle of sleep difficulties again.

Jake Zandi:
Right.

Martin Reed:
So, this is why we really want to take a two-pronged approach by building that sleep drive, spending a little bit less time in bed or just an amount of time that’s more appropriate to the kind of sleep you’re getting. Also, sort of seeing what we can do to weaken that arousal system, so we don’t need to be awake for quite so long in order to get those better nights of sleep.

Jake Zandi:
Of course, no, I agree with you, because after a while your body just … you have to sleep. The sleep drive really does kick in.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, and I think in a way it can be a little bit reassuring because it shows that you can still sleep. You can still get those nights of a few hours plus of sleep. So, if nothing else that shows that your sleep drive system is working, your sleep isn’t completely broken, that you are capable of sleep, then you’ve got something to build on, something to work on. So, if nothing else, I think those one off better nights can serve as a little bit of reassurance perhaps.

Jake Zandi:
Oh, for sure, for sure. That’s something that I really started to notice, was eventually … At first, I thought my sleep was broken, like I’m having issues, there’s something wrong with me. For me, it was very anxiety based. So, it was basically me, my mind, keeping myself awake, and then my body was just always tensed. I wasn’t relaxing at all. I just really couldn’t get there. Until eventually I feel like I just wore out completely, just burnt out. Then, my body would just, whatever, head hits the pillow, you’re out.

Jake Zandi:
Then, that would happen, and that would be awesome, because I was like, “Wow, that really helps with my sleep confidence.” Yeah, that was really cool to experience that. Then, that’s when I did end up finding your videos on YouTube and ended up learning more about CBT and CBT-I, and I really think that that’s huge. With the whole sleep restriction and all of that, that was very good, but I don’t know if I’m skipping ahead, Martin.

Martin Reed:
No, no, that’s great. I think that’s a great point to move on to that. Like you said, you came across my YouTube channel. For anyone that’s not familiar with it, you can find it at YouTube.com/insomniacoach. Really, it’s these sleep related thoughts that we can develop and these sleep related behaviors we implement in response to difficult nights of sleep, through no fault of our own, because we want to fix the problem of disruptive sleep. But unfortunately, they can perpetuate that sleep disruption. So, in order to get our sleep back on track, really what we want to do is address those thoughts and behaviors.

Martin Reed:
If we can do that, we create better conditions for sleep, and we do that through building sleep drive, strengthening our body clock, and our good friend, the arousal system, we lower or we weaken that arousal. Can you tell us a bit more about any of the thoughts? You mentioned that kind of anxiety, could you tell us a bit more about any of the thoughts that you perhaps identified that could have been fueling your insomnia, or maybe you touched upon one of them, spending a lot of time in bed? Any of the sleep related behaviors you’re implementing in a bid to improve your sleep that on reflection might not have been that helpful?

Jake Zandi:
Yeah, so it really was a lot of those thoughts of, “Will I be able to get sleep tonight? How will I function tomorrow?” Then, there’s also the, “Is there something wrong with me? Is there something going wrong?” Then, that’s when a lot of it was, I was Googling a lot of stuff, I was watching a lot of videos, because I’m a big YouTube person. I love watching videos. I think it’s great. I get a lot more insight than just reading something on Reddit or whatever. But yeah, it was just a lot of worry.

Jake Zandi:
Then, you’d see something, or read something where someone is like, “I haven’t slept in a few days.” Then, before you know it, you’re like, “Is that going to be me? Am I going to be this person who’s not being able to sleep and then basically being bed-ridden?” It was just a lot of bad, negative sleep thoughts. That was feeding it. If you’re thinking negative all the time about something, it’s probably not going to work out. It’s not going to be a positive outcome.

Jake Zandi:
I never thought this would happen to me, so that’s why I was like, “What is going on?” I never thought that I would basically, not lose control of my sleep, but lose the confidence and my ability to have a good restful slumber, do you know what I mean? So, it was bad for a while, but that’s when I found you, and I watched a lot of your videos. I researched a lot of my own. Read articles about CBT-I, and that was where things started turning around significantly and pretty quickly. I was very surprised.

Martin Reed:
So, I think that the first thing that you did was reduce the amount of time you were allotting for sleep, is that right?

Jake Zandi:
Yes, yup. So, instead of going to bed early and then allotting nine hours in bed trying to sleep, physically trying to sleep, and before I get into that, I did try all the sleep hygiene stuff, it didn’t work for me. Some things, I guess, but that became ritualistic. Then, before you know it, you have to have tea at night and do certain meditation, and listen to this tape and that tape. Anyways, that didn’t really work for me and it became more of a hassle. It gave me either more anxiety about trying to sleep, because if I didn’t do one thing, I wouldn’t be able to get that sleep.

Jake Zandi:
But the CBT-I is what really worked, and it was that sleep restriction, which I’ve tried first. Instead of going to bed, I think it was like 11:00 trying to sleep, I stay up until I think 1:00, 1:30. I actually started to feel sleepy, naturally, like I used to, you know what I mean?

Martin Reed:
Yeah.

Jake Zandi:
So, it was letting go of trying to fall asleep at 11:00 exactly and all these other stuff, and staying in bed so long that I would go to bed and I would wake up within, I think it was a six and a half hour time frame. Then, I was able to sleep and I slept six and a half hours, but it did become clear that if I just got out of bed and didn’t sit there all day, I was able to start my day sooner. I was able to do all these normal things. Have breakfast. Have tea in the morning, or whatever. I usually do tea because I’m not really big into coffee, but yeah, I just felt like I was able to have a full day.

Jake Zandi:
Then, at the end of the day, get naturally tired, naturally sleepy, and go to bed. But yeah, it took me probably a few nights of just trying the sleep restriction until it eventually felt like I was in a groove, in a rhythm. Almost as if like my circadian rhythm reset and it knew when to go to bed and when to wake up and it was less effort. So, that helped tremendously, sleep restriction.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, I think that you touched upon it. It was getting that sense of really strong sleepiness back again, because it’s so easy to forget it, that sense of sleepiness, because when we have insomnia, it’s often replaced by this sense of fatigue, feeling worn out, just exhausted and run down. That doesn’t feel good, obviously, but it’s not a sign that we need sleep at that time.

Jake Zandi:
Exactly.

Martin Reed:
There is a difference between fatigue and sleepiness, and what can happen is when we go to bed when we’re fatigued instead of sleepy, we’re probably not going to fall asleep. Then, because we’re not falling asleep, then we start to get all those worries, “Why am I not falling asleep? I’m exhausted. I’m so worn out. I can barely concentrate. Why am I not sleeping?” Well, the reason you’re not sleeping is probably because you’re not sleepy enough to sleep and then because that arousal is kicking in. This is through no fault of our own, because everything we’re doing is completely understandable.

Martin Reed:
We want to fix the problem of this sleep disruption. Unfortunately, sleep is that oddity, because it response poorly to effort and striving, it is one of these things that gets worse the more we want it. So, by doing things like giving ourselves less opportunity for sleep, we’re still giving ourselves a good opportunity for sleep. I never recommend spending less time in bed than you typically spend asleep. So, we’re still giving you that opportunity for sleep. By doing that, we’re really building that sleep drive. We are getting that sense of sleepiness back. We’re creating better conditions for sleep.

Martin Reed:
Just as you found, it can just feel so good to get that sense of sleepiness back and that does help with sleep onset and it does help weaken or lower that arousal, too.

Jake Zandi:
For sure. I also noticed, too, is if I actually waited to feel sleepy, because I would feel tired, “Oh, I’m tired. I’m tired. I need to go to bed. I need to sleep.” Do you know what I mean? But I wasn’t really sleepy yet, so it was just, like you said, your mind keeps going and it’s like, “Why am I not asleep yet? I’m not asleep yet.” But the sleepiness, once I started feeling that again, I also started to care a little bit less and less each night about if I was going to get good sleep or whatever, because it was, honestly, the more sleepy I was the less time I had to think about it.

Jake Zandi:
The less powerful it got. I also had better quality of sleep. Instead of waking up multiple times of the night like I did before, and this is something I want to touch on, before if I did wake up, it was hard for me to fall asleep, but I also did wake up multiple times throughout the night. But it was, yeah, it was pretty bad at first, but I do want to touch real quick on the other technique that I did use when I had these troubles, when I woke up and couldn’t fall back asleep, was I would get up and do something boring or whatever.

Jake Zandi:
Whether it’s coloring a coloring book, or read a book, just in a dim light, quiet area. That was just like my reset. So, I would do that as well. That was another technique.

Martin Reed:
One thing I did just want to talk about quickly, just with the sleep restriction and allotting less time for sleep, just waiting for that strong sense of sleepiness to occur. Another reason why I think it can be helpful is it shifts attention away from the clock as well, because often when we’re allotting so much time for sleep, like you touched upon, it was probably closer to nine hours and you were getting nowhere near that amount of sleep, is often you can have this idea, “Okay, it’s 10:00, now, I have to go to bed, or 11:00, I have to go to bed.”

Martin Reed:
Without any consideration of how sleepy you are because you’re so keen to get a certain amount of sleep. You want to give yourself that opportunity, but the problem is, the clock doesn’t know when we’re sleepy. So, if we go to bed based on what the clock is telling us, that could lead to some sleep disruption because we might not be sleepy enough to sleep. Also, if we get really ritualistic about, it’s X o’clock, so now I must go to bed, it can leak into our lives as well. Because then, we might not want to, for example, go out for dinner or go out to the movies, or socialize with friends because we feel that we have to be back for that set bed time.

Martin Reed:
So, I just think it’s really helpful to not only allot a more proper amount of time for sleep, but to really try and shift the tension away from using the clock as your guide for when to go to bed. Yes, maybe it can be helpful to have an earliest possible bed time. So, if you are implementing a sleep window, you can say, “I’m not going to go to bed before,” I think you said for you it was like 1:00 in the morning?

Jake Zandi:
Right.

Martin Reed:
But even then, if 1:00 in the morning rolls around and you don’t feel sleepy enough to sleep, it can still be helpful to just wait for those natural sleepiness cues to appear before going to bed.

Jake Zandi:
Oh, for sure. Yeah, it was just like night and day. Honestly, it was such a big change instead of trying to go to sleep. Because like you said, the clock doesn’t know when you’re sleepy. Another thing is clock watching, too, that would keep me up at the beginning, was I’d look at the clock, look at the clock, “What time? Oh, my God, it’s 2:00 in the morning, I’m still awake, what’s going on?” But that was all that sleep effort, I was trying to sleep, I was trying to get to bed at a certain time and stay asleep for a certain amount of time, and hopefully not wake up.

Jake Zandi:
It was just adding more and more anxiety, but having that sleep restriction and just staying up, like I say, I stay up and I read until 1:00. If I feel sleepy at 1:00, I’d go to bed at 1:00 and then I’ll wake up 6:30, 7:00, whatever it may be. Then, it would just get better, and better, and the quality of sleep would get better and better, because after a while it didn’t seem … Eight hours sounds good, but who really gets a straight eight hours of sleep? It seems very hard the older you get, especially.

Jake Zandi:
But the quality, I rather have six and half, six to six and a half hours of quality sleep instead of just sleeping, trying to sleep for eight, nine hours, waking up, going back to sleep, and having to do all these things. Do you know what I mean? The sleep restriction was huge for me and that really built up that sleep confidence again. But yeah, if I did have bad nights, I would implement getting up out of bed and then doing something relaxing, going back to bed, and usually I’d be successful in falling asleep. So, that worked as well. It was my reset.

Martin Reed:
Yeah. So, let’s talk about that, because I think it can be really helpful, too. Okay, so we’ve got a plan in place right now, I’m not going to go to bed before a certain time. I’m going to get out of bed no matter what at a certain time in the morning. So, another good plan to have in the toolbox is what to do if you get into bed and then you find it hard to fall asleep, or if you wake up during the night and find it hard to fall back to sleep. Often, I like to say that if being awake in bed feels good, there’s no reason to do anything, because it means the conditions are right for sleep.

Martin Reed:
But if being in bed doesn’t feel good, then it can be a good idea to get out of bed and do something that would make that wakefulness a little bit more pleasant, compared to staying in bed when being in bed doesn’t feel good. It sounds like that was a technique that you implemented. So, yeah, I’m really keen to hear more about how you implemented it and how you feel it worked for you.

Jake Zandi:
Yeah, so at first I was nervous of trying that. I was afraid to get out of bed. I was like, “Oh, well, what if I get out of bed and then I’m not that sleepy when I come back?” That wasn’t the case, that wasn’t the case. The first time I actually tried it, it did work and I was very surprised. So, I got out of bed. I think I must have woken up maybe three in the morning and I was like, “Oh, man, I’m up at three in the morning, I really want to sleep. I really want to get to bed.” It’s just one extra thing you have to do, but it works. For some people, it might not work, but maybe staying in bed works, like you were saying, if the conditions were right for sleep.

Jake Zandi:
But if I’m feeling wide awake, I’m not going to sit there anymore. So, what I’d do is I’d get up. I have an adult coloring back or whatever. I’ll color in that in low light. Actually, I have one of those Himalayan salt lamps that I have, and I’ll turn that on and I’ll just … Even if I stood up in bed that has worked for me, but usually the couch is the best for me. If I go out to the living room, it’s a different room. I can get that sense of being able to reset my mind, do whether it’s reading techniques, that helps too. I can even do a quick meditation if I don’t feel like coloring or reading a book that late.

Jake Zandi:
But 20 minutes is kind of like my perfect thing. I don’t look at the clock or anything. I just guesstimate. If it feels like it’s been 20 minutes, and I’m starting to feel sleepy again, which I usually do, I’ll head back to bed. Usually, what happens is within a couple of minutes I’m asleep. So, it’s like, the head hits the pillow, but it’s a good way to get out of bed, get back to a reality, I guess, you know what I mean? Instead of being in this anxious state of not being able to sleep, to be able to get back to a sense of, “I’m here. I’m all right. I can breathe.” If for whatever reason it takes longer and you got to do it again, it’s not the end of the world. Eventually, you will sleep.

Martin Reed:
I think that the phrase you used, it helps me reset my mind, was something that I just picked up on, because often when we spend time awake in bed, that’s when we start to ruminate. The mind starts to fire up, maybe notch up into a higher gear. We’re in bed, it’s probably dark, we’re alone with our thoughts, it can be hard to move away from that when the mind decides it wants to go into hyper drive. So, getting out of bed and just doing anything else can act a little bit just like a circuit breaker, like a reset switch, and help calm the mind a little bit more quickly, compared to if you have stayed in bed with nothing else to focus on other than those thoughts.

Jake Zandi:
Right, and it breaks that frustration, because after a while you end up going from anxious, to frustrated, to, “Man, I’m not going to sleep, tomorrow’s ruined. Blah, blah, blah.” Then, you start really feeding those anxious and negative sleep thoughts. So, yeah, it’s just very helpful to just get out, reset, breathe, everything is going to be fine, and just have some sense of optimism. That’s really what was able to help, too. So, that did work for me, and these were all tools that I can still use, do you know what I mean? If I have bad nights now. I’m doing a lot better.

Jake Zandi:
I’m basically back to before this was happening. But sometimes, I do have those thoughts here and there, “Oh, man, something big is coming up.” But yeah, that was very helpful, those techniques.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, and I think something else that can be helpful to recognize as well is, you might not fall right back to sleep just because you got out of bed. Even if you get in and out of bed a few times during the night, you might not fall back to sleep. Because we can’t control sleep, our goal isn’t necessarily to do something or to make ourselves fall back to sleep. Really, what we’re doing is just trying to give you an alternative to staying in bed if being in bed is just not proving to be helpful. So, getting out of bed, doing something else, if nothing else, it will probably make that wakefulness a little bit more appealing compared to staying in bed.

Martin Reed:
But the real bonus it has, and this is more of a long term benefit, is it prevent your mind from reinforcing this negative association between the bed and unpleasant wakefulness. A common symptom of that is feeling really sleepy before going to bed and then you get into bed and you just feel wide awake again. Or, waking during the night and suddenly feeling really awake, even after very little amount of sleep. Because your mind forms powerful associations and if we repeatedly spend a lot of time in bed and it doesn’t feel good to be in bed, our mind learns the bed is not a good place to be.

Martin Reed:
So, as soon as we get into bed, or as soon as we wake from sleep, the brain is like, “Uh-uh, we got to activate all the fight or flight response to protect you from this evil bed. This bed is a horrible place to be.” So, the only way we can really break that association is by only being in bed when we’re either asleep or when conditions feel right for sleep. We do that by just getting out of bed whenever it’s not good to be in bed. So, even if you don’t fall asleep that night, what you’re doing is still going to be helpful, by getting out of bed instead of staying in bed when being in bed doesn’t feel good. It’s still going to be helpful over the longer time, too.

Jake Zandi:
Exactly. That’s something I noticed, because sometimes if I would just try to go to bed, when this was all beginning, when this was all starting, I’d get anxious and be like, “Oh, no, I don’t want to go to bed.” You know what I mean? Because I had bad nights there, and some nights it was sleeping on the couch for me that felt better. I did notice that. I was like, “Well, if I can sleep on the couch, why can’t I sleep in the bed?” Because I created those negative sleep thoughts and then that arousal and all of that, it just became second nature without me being able to really control it.

Jake Zandi:
I had to do something about it. I feel like, from what I know, your mind will follow your body and vice versa. So, just if I’m sleeping on a couch, I should be able to sleep in the bed, no problem. So, I really just stopped using the couch for a place to sleep or whatever when I was having these difficult nights, and retrain my brain to know the bed as a comfortable place to sleep, the right place to sleep. I almost created like a, what is the word for it? It became like a haven, like a place where sleep happens and not a hangout.

Jake Zandi:
The bedroom to me now, I don’t go in there, I had a TV in there, but we don’t watch anymore. So, the TV, I’d rather be in the living room where I can watch television or relax and do all these things and then head to the bedroom. I think coming into the living room has been great because it associates the living room with a place to be awake and a place to relax, do you know what I mean? So, going back to the bed after that reset, the bed feels like the proper place to sleep.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, you’re making a really good point there. That’s something I think people are going to identify with is I thought that I was able to sleep on the couch, why couldn’t I sleep in bed? Often, it does come down to that conditioned arousal. We’ve conditioned ourselves, again, through no fault of our own, it’s just the fact that we’ve spent so much time in bed when being in bed didn’t feel good. Our brain is telling us that it’s got to protect us from being in bed. In order to do that, we have to be awake.

Martin Reed:
But if we are in a different environment such as on the couch, we haven’t got that association. So, we’re able to relax, we’re able to feel sleepy, and we’re able to fall asleep. So, if nothing else, the fact that we can fall asleep on the couch proves that we can sleep, as you had just touched upon. So, how do we then make that transition? How do we shift that sleep from the couch to the bed? I think it is a case of accepting that there’s going to be some sleep disruption in the short term by only allowing yourself to sleep in bed instead of the couch.

Martin Reed:
But if you only allow yourself to sleep in your own bed, if that’s your long term goal, is to sleep in your own bed, then by only allowing yourself to sleep in your own bed, that is where you will sooner or later sleep, because sleep drive always wins in the end. Sleep always happens in the end. So, if you refuses to allow yourself to sleep anywhere other than your own bed, that is where sleep is going to happen. Every minute of sleep you then get, you’re going to be in your own bed, you’re going to be reinforcing that more positive association between your bed and sleep, instead of the couch, or the guest room, or anywhere else.

Jake Zandi:
Exactly. That’s just, at this point now where I’ve done so much, I look at the bed differently now. Because when I started having these issues, I looked at the bed, like I said before, a negative place. I had so many bad experiences in there, not being able to sleep, having terrible days the day after. It just snowballed into, I don’t want to even go in the bedroom anymore. I’ll just stay on the couch and hopefully fall asleep. But once I retrain myself to sleep, and you have to retrain yourself to association things with sleep, the bed has become my natural place to sleep.

Jake Zandi:
It’s the designated place to sleep and I no longer look at it with that negative look like I did before. It seems like these thoughts, once you do that enough, these thoughts, these negative sleep thoughts, they start to fade and have less power, which has been really cool. I don’t know if I’m jumping ahead again, Martin, but that was something that was very empowering, was the fact that these negative sleep thoughts became less and less and less because I had so many good nights after these issues in my own bed. So, now, I’m having maybe less sleep at first, but I’m having quality sleep.

Jake Zandi:
I’m actually tired. That sleep drive built up all day and it was awesome. It was such a great experience to just come out of that and I was like, “Oh, finally, I’m able to get a hold of myself again.” After having so much bad sleep with bad associations, it was just reassuring that I was able to sleep again. I guess I look back and a lot of the stuff that I was doing was, I was making it worse by trying to go bed earlier and staying in bed later. Before you know it, I was basically setting myself up for failure the next night because I just wasn’t using any of the energy that I did have, because I was so fatigued all the time.

Jake Zandi:
I thought I was sleep deprived, but I don’t think I was ever really sleep deprived. I think a lot of it was just fatigue from the worry. It was doing more damage than lack of sleep at that point.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, one thing that I think is important to recognize, too, is just as it took time maybe for our minds to associate the bed as not a nice place to be, it’s going to take time to retrain our brains, our minds, to see the bed as a place for sleep and as a nice place to be. So, I think it can be helpful to emphasize that just because sometimes we can try these things. For example, we might decide, “Okay, I’m not going to allow myself to sleep on the couch. I’m only going to sleep in my own bed.” Then, after a week or two, you’re not really finding you’re making progress.

Martin Reed:
Really, that’s understandable because just like it took time for the mind to associate the bed with unpleasant wakefulness, it’s probably going to take a little bit of time for it to re-associate the bed with sleep and more pleasant wakefulness. So, it is really a case of just try to be as consistent as possible and really trying to take a long time approach wherever possible.

Jake Zandi:
Right, and it’s not an overnight fix. It’s not going to take one try at it and that’s why I really stuck to it. I wasn’t successful right away. Maybe that first night I was tired from probably the night before so I did get that six and a half hours of sleep and I was like, “Oh, that was great. That was quality.” But it takes time, because then I did have some nights where I was still struggling and still having the negative association, and then still worried. But like I said, overtime I did get … It did only take me about a few nights to start getting back on track, but in between there were some nights where either it took me a while to fall asleep or I was up at a certain time.

Jake Zandi:
But really, once you have those days where you’re not sitting in bed, laying in bed trying to catch up on sleep, and all these other stuff, and trying to take naps and all of that, you’re able to just really feel naturally tired and naturally sleepy at night. You just got to keep trying at it and eventually it will work no matter what, I think. Unless there’s something like a physical ailment or something like that. For me, this was anxiety based. So, this was able to really help, that sleep restriction, and being able to reset and using the CBT-I techniques. It was very helpful. So, I’m very glad I found these techniques through your videos.

Martin Reed:
Now, I want to move on to, we’ve talked a lot about things that you were doing at night, trying to create better conditions for sleep. It would be good for us to move on at some point to things you might have done during the day to help improve your sleep. But before I do that, I just want to check, was there anything else that you can think of that you found helpful in the evenings or at nighttime to create those better conditions for sleep?

Jake Zandi:
For me, what worked for me is just having time to relax. Actually, what I do now is if I had a really busy day, because sometimes I feel like in my more busy days, it’s harder to come down and relax, because I had so much going on. That’s just for me, at least. What I do now is I’ll have a designated hour before bedtime where I relax, I can do some meditations, some breathing techniques, some reading, whatever it may be. It’s actually very so much of the stuff that I would do when I’d reset in the middle of the night, if I had to go get out of bed for 20 minutes or so.

Jake Zandi:
But now, I really focus on mindfulness trying to really just get the brain to slow down, the mind to slow down. Because if you’re overactive in your mind when you’re trying to sleep, it’s just going to take longer. Eventually, sleep drive will kick in and you will fall asleep, but this is something that has really been helping me out, is just meditation, mindfulness, relaxation an hour before bed instead of doing work or whatever, having something that’s very exciting happening. It’s nicer to just come down before bed, and I have allotted myself an hour to do so every night.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, I think that can be really helpful, just giving ourselves that time to unwind. It’s important to emphasize that we’re not using that hour to try and generate sleep or generate sleepiness. It’s just some time for us to relax and unwind, and it can also be helpful to just make, because it helps make that period before we would normally go to bed. Maybe the times that we would look forward to were often the time that we fear or dread. So, if we reserve that hour before bed, for example, for just like it’s me time, I’m just going to do things that I find relaxing, I find enjoyable, I’m not going to do any work, no chores, just good stuff.

Martin Reed:
That period before going to bed can then become a time that we might start to look forward to, which in itself could just be a transformation in our way of thinking of the approach of bedtime. It also just helps ensure that we’re creating better conditions for sleep, just because we’re going to be in a more relaxed state. The arousal is perhaps going to be lower. If we’re doing things we enjoy, it can also maybe even just serve as a distraction. It helps us recognize sleepiness cues.

Martin Reed:
If we’re not wired in the hour before bed, we’re more likely to recognize when we are feeling sleepy instead of fatigued and tired. So, we might then be more likely to go to bed when conditions are much better for sleep.

Jake Zandi:
Exactly. I do want to bring up one point, Martin. An issue that did come up that I did realize, so once I got my sleep back on track, I felt like doing the sleep restriction and all of that was extremely helpful. When I got almost too confident, I start to drift away a little bit. What would happen was I would get too goal oriented before bed with certain things. It’s happened here and there, not every night, but it could be that one night where I’m really thinking about something about whether it’d be work, an event coming up, or whatever it may be.

Jake Zandi:
Those goal oriented thoughts will keep you awake, at least it does for me. So, it is good to have that relaxation time, that you time, but maybe stay away from the goal oriented stuff and just do the relaxing things you enjoy doing. So, that’s just one point that did come up, because there was a couple of nights, actually … No, there was a couple of nights where I had something on my mind and that kept me up. Then, the next day I was like, “Oh, no, am I back? Am I relapsing? Is this happening?”

Jake Zandi:
But no, I just implemented the techniques again and was able to get through that, but definitely having that relaxation time before bed and doing relaxing things is key to really help you, like you said, look forward to going, transitioning into the night and going to sleep.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, absolutely. Unless you have anything else to add in terms of the night time side of the equation, maybe now would be a good time to move on to the day.

Jake Zandi:
Oh, yes.

Martin Reed:
Because so much of our sleep is actually influenced by what we do during the day rather than by what we do during the night. So, I thought that would be good to touch upon. So, on reflection, what kind of changes do you feel you made to what you do during the day that perhaps helped you improve your sleep at night?

Jake Zandi:
Okay, yeah, I’m glad you brought that up because this was very important and this really helped turn my bad sleep around and get back to normal, better sleep. Throughout the day, before, when I was first going through all these sleep problems, like I said, I’d never gone through anything like this before, I was so hyper-focused on it all day. It became that vicious cycle of, “I’m worried, am I going to get a good night sleep?” From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, I was worried. This lasted or months, until I was able to implement CBT-I techniques.

Jake Zandi:
But now, what I do is I try to wake up in a positive, optimistic mindset, try to have the best day I can have. I exercise more now. I know it’s winter, where I am it’s cold in this time of year, so I’d go on my … I had a exercise bike at home that I’d go on and do that, do some cardiovascular stuff. Then, I’d go do work. So, in the morning, I wake up, do some exercise, go to work, try to socialize as much as I could with people. Do things that I typically would have avoid when I was going through the worst of my insomnia.

Jake Zandi:
I would avoid going out and that was huge avoidance. That was a way to cope, I guess, to, “Well, I’m too fatigued to go out. Too tired to do this.” I basically had to push myself and start doing my normal activities, much normal as I can make it, because we’re still going through COVID and things were still restricted. But there’s definitely that light at the end of the tunnel, but anyways, it’s just keeping busy, keeping up with friends, family, just anything you can do to really just keep your mind off of all the sleeping.

Jake Zandi:
Because when you think about it all day, you’re basically setting yourself up for an anxious night, but yeah, those are things that I do now. I go out, I have things to look forward to. I make plans. At first, when I was first going through this, I was afraid to make plans for the next day, or a few days, because I’d be afraid, “Oh, what if I have a bad night? I won’t be able to perform and go do what I needed to do, or spend time with people I want to spend time with.” But once I started to, and even if I did have a bad night, start going out and start making plans again and doing things, I started feeling more confident as well.

Jake Zandi:
I was almost looking at sleep as it’s good for you, it’s important but it’s not as important as I thought it was. It’s not going to keep me from doing the things I love doing. It was getting to the point where I was so sick of just worrying, and worrying, and worrying, and Googling things and watching all these videos and stuff. No offense to your videos because those were very helpful, but it was like, that consumes so much of my time before that I brought to bed with me every night. I worried. The worry was more powerful than having a bad night’s sleep in means of being fatigued and not feeling well the next day.

Jake Zandi:
I feel like I’ve come to learn, but yeah, it’s important to keep up and do the things that you love doing and not let this consume your life. There’s so many people that go through sleep issues or insomnia. Like I said, I felt very desperate at times for help and I didn’t know what to do at first. I didn’t know if I needed to go to the doctor, or get on sleeping pills, or supplements, or whatever. I was very hesitant, so I didn’t do that. I didn’t want to become addicted to sleeping pills. Sometimes they can give you sleep but not … Like you’ve said in some of your videos, it makes it easier for you to turn on that nervous system and fall asleep because it doesn’t generate sleep.

Jake Zandi:
Those medications just help with all the anxiety and stuff like that, because sleep is just natural, biological process. So, hopefully I didn’t go too far off topic on that.

Martin Reed:
No, I think that was all really, really helpful stuff. I think it’s so important to be as active and engaged as possible during the day and independently of sleep, not without sleep to control what we might do during the day for so many reasons. If nothing else, because one of our biggest thoughts that can keep us awake at night is concern about what the next day will be like if we don’t fall asleep, or if we don’t get certain amount of sleep. So, if we can just explore that belief by seeing what we are capable of doing during the day, even after difficult nights of sleep, we might surprise ourselves.

Martin Reed:
We might recognize that perhaps we do have some control over the quality of our day than how we sleep the previous night. I think we do have more control over the quality of our day, how we feel during the day than sleep alone. If we do things that we enjoy during the day, even after difficult nights, by their very nature because we’re doing enjoyable activities, we’re going to get some sense of enjoyment out of that activity. But it can be difficult, because our minds can be screaming at us to conserve energy, to not do anything, to cancel all of our plans because we are just not capable. Our brain wants to trick us into telling us we’re not capable after difficult nights of sleep, or after no sleep.

Martin Reed:
This can perpetuate the problem, because then we kind of … We’re often canceling plans that we might have otherwise enjoy it, so we’re guaranteeing that a difficult night leads to a difficult day or a less pleasant day. Then, because we’re less active, we’re not really doing stuff, then our mind has got all these free time on its hands.

Jake Zandi:
Exactly.

Martin Reed:
It’s going to want to worry, it’s going to want to generate anxiety. We might then want to try doing things like napping, which is going to reduce that sleep drive if we nap. If we can’t nap, then we worry even more because we can’t nap. So, doing good stuff during the day can really help break that connection between sleep, quality of sleep and quality of our days. When we can start to recognize that we do have a lot of control over how we feel during the day, this is not to say that sleep has no influence, it definitely does. But we do have a lot of control over how we feel during the day.

Martin Reed:
If we can break that connection between 100% of my day is predetermined by how I sleep 100% of the time, we might then start to put a little bit less pressure on ourselves to sleep. That thought that I must fall back to sleep, I must get a certain amount of sleep otherwise today will be awful. We can chip away the anxiety that kind of thinking can generate. So, in turn, we start to enjoy better days, and because we are a little bit less worried about sleep, we can start to enjoy better nights too.

Jake Zandi:
Oh, exactly. This is one thing that I did. I heard somewhere, I can’t remember now, I think it was a quote, but it was, “Don’t live to sleep. Sleep to live.” I’m not sure where that … I came across that when I was doing some research or whatever, but that really stuck with me, because you should be enjoying your life. You shouldn’t let a bad night sleep really ruin the whole next day, because you might be a little tired, fatigued, or whatever, but you can still get through the day. You can really get through the day and still have an enjoyable day.

Jake Zandi:
Even if it’s walking out, going to the park, and then just being out in the sunshine and enjoying the sounds of the birds chirping, or whatever. It’s honestly much better than sitting at home on your couch and just wallowing, worrying, because I feel like for me at least, the worry was doing much more damage than the lack of sleep. Then, regardless, in the end, your body always does generate that sleep that you need. If anything, you do get that minimum amount of sleep that your body will need to get through the next day. So, I don’t know, throughout this whole process, I don’t think it didn’t happen … Everything happens for a reason, I believe.

Jake Zandi:
I’m very optimistic and I believe in things like that happening. I think that for me this was, I wasn’t paying attention to myself. I wasn’t taking care of myself enough mentally and physically. This was like a wake up call, if anything, literally, because I was awake all the time. Anyways, it was quite the experience, and at first it was very, very scary, but in time in using CBT-I techniques, you’ll get that confidence again. So, it’s been great.

Martin Reed:
I think that just doing anything during the day, anything you can add to your day, even if it’s just something small, like a walk around the block, or walking out to the coffee shop, or anything that we can add to our day that we might otherwise have avoided based on how we sleep is helpful. We don’t have to be out training for our marathon. Just any kind of activity or anything we enjoy. These things don’t even have to all be physical. Just things that we are passionate about, that motivate us, that gives us a sense of enrichment, or enjoyment.

Martin Reed:
These are all great things we can add to our lives. If we do it independently of sleep, there’s never a negative outcome, because we’re going to have better days and we’re going to maybe put less pressure on our selves to sleep, so we might have better nights in response to. I think something you touched upon with that quote as well is, when we’re all on our deathbeds, hopefully a long, long time from now, we’re not really going to look back on our lives and think, “February 3rd, 1996 was a great night of sleep. That gave my life all of its meaning.”

Martin Reed:
Instead, we’re going to be remembering all the things we did when we were awake, that added enrichment and joy to our lives. This show us that really what happens during the day is far more important than what happens at night. So, perhaps if we can focus our attention and our efforts on living our day time life independently of sleep, then perhaps sleep will take care of itself because we’re then not giving it the attention, or putting the effort into sleep, the two things that can make sleep much more difficult.

Jake Zandi:
Exactly, I couldn’t agree more. It’s just what you do during the day is just so important. So, if you just waste away, waste your day and not do anything, you’re going to continue to have the problem. So, for anyone listening, it is good to get out and stay busy, and do things that you really enjoy doing. Like you said, Martin, even walking around the block, that can make a world of difference for the next night, honestly.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, absolutely. So, what’s an average night like for you these days, Jake? I’m guessing you’re probably not tracking your sleep that much these days compared to when you were struggling, but just on reflection, how would you describe an average night?

Jake Zandi:
Well, an average now, like I said, I don’t really think too much about it. The only thing I really implement now would be that relaxation time at the end of each day. If I don’t do that, then I set myself up for a little bit harder time falling asleep. I don’t think about it as much at all really. I don’t talk. Some days I used to talk to my fiancee about it all the time, or my mom, I’m very close to my mom. I’d call her and be like, “Oh, I didn’t sleep good last night.” Or, she’d ask me how I was doing, or how I’ve been sleeping, but this is something that’s just really kind of … it’s irrelevant now.

Jake Zandi:
It’s something I don’t really worry about. So, talking about it less and less, thinking about it less and less. I’m now sleeping, I think last night I slept eight and a half hours, which is, that was pretty awesome. This is coming from someone who’s going through night after night of just terrible poor quality anxiety ridden sleep. But yeah, I slept really good last night. Then, maybe the night before that I slept probably seven and that’s all I want. My goal is to just get back to seven to eight hours and I’m back doing that.

Jake Zandi:
So, I’m thinking less and less about it. I’m worried about it less and less. If I talk to you about maybe a month ago, I’d probably still be very anxiety ridden. But I’m doing pretty good. I feel good and my sleep is basically back on track. It’s 99%, because you’re not always going to have a perfect night, and I don’t expect to always have a perfect night.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, I think it’s that shift in the mindset, which is really the key evidence of success, because when we don’t really worry about sleep, we’re not really paying attention to sleep, thus typically when we’re sleeping the best. So, if you just ask an average person on the street, “Oh, how many hours of sleep did you get last night?” They’ll just going to guess, they’ll think about it for a few seconds, “When did I go to bed? When did I get out of bed?” And just fill that entire period with sleep. But when we have insomnia, when we’re struggling, we kind of know everything about our sleep almost down to the minute.

Martin Reed:
We’re really analytical, we’re really monitoring. Perhaps we can use that. If we can recognize that there has been this difference, maybe we can use that as evidence that paying so much attention to sleep and really monitoring for sleep maybe isn’t that helpful. Maybe if we can just take an approach of, sleep is going to happen, accepting each night for what it is, shifting our attention to what we do during the day, and just allowing sleep to come naturally, because sleep does want to come naturally. It’s only when we crave it, when we strive for it that it tends to be a bit more elusive. That can be so helpful.

Jake Zandi:
For sure. So, it really is like that, it will happen, it will happen. That’s what I really got out of sleep restriction, like I said, it was the biggest technique that worked for me, it really did. Once I had a few nights of good quality, six and a half hours of sleep, that was better than the nine hours laying in bed, getting four or five hours of broken sleep or whatever. So, yeah, anytime I feel like I’ve reset, but you have to work at it. It didn’t come free. It came with having to implement techniques, but now, yeah, I don’t think about it really.

Martin Reed:
Yeah.

Jake Zandi:
So, it’s freeing, a very good feeling.

Martin Reed:
Yeah, absolutely. Well, Jake, I really appreciate all the time that you’ve given up to come on to the podcast. I just know that many, many people listening to this are going to get a lot of value from it, and it’s going to prove to be really helpful, but there is one last question that I haven’t asked you yet, and it’s a question that I asked everyone that comes on. So, I would like to ask you, too, and it’s this, if someone with chronic insomnia is listening and feels as though they’ve tried everything, that they’re beyond help, and they can’t do anything to improve their sleep, what would you tell them?

Jake Zandi:
I’d say, don’t give up on yourself and don’t, really, just don’t feed into the negative sleep thoughts. Try to turn those negative thoughts into positive thoughts. Really, really try to implement. I know it sounds scary, but try the sleep restriction. Try to reset as well. If you can’t fall asleep, get out of bed. Do something relaxing for about, 20, 30 minutes and try again, because you’ll be successful eventually. If you have to do it multiple times, you have to do it multiple times, but don’t give up on yourself.

Jake Zandi:
Don’t feed into those negative sleep thoughts. Turn those sleep thoughts, those negative sleep thoughts into positive sleep thoughts and eventually, you will reset. You will feel better. Get out. Live your life. Don’t wallow. I know it’s easier said than done, but I struggled for a while with this and I’m someone that would never have struggled with this, I don’t think. But with everything happening in the world, I did get very stressed out and very anxious about a lot of things.

Jake Zandi:
But in the end, just don’t give up. In time, if it takes you five weeks, or if it takes you six months to have the sleep restriction work, it will work. You’ll have that confidence back. I think that’s really all I got to say.

Martin Reed:
That’s great. Just because I know people are going to be thinking this, do you have any tips on how you might turn those negative sleep thoughts into more positive ways of thinking?

Jake Zandi:
Well, for me at least, having a positive day, do you know what I mean? Trying to turn, almost like I had to rewire my brain, it felt like, but if I went out and I had a positive day, smile more, try to just get out and enjoy time with friends, family. Yeah, the more positive things that you do or just getting out of bed and getting off the couch or whatever, and getting out into life, my mindset and my thought process became more positive in general.

Jake Zandi:
I was able to think, you know what? Instead of having a bad night tonight and worrying about it, I was like, “You know what? I’m going to sleep good.” Even telling myself, “I’m going to have a good night sleep tonight.” It worked. So, it was very helpful.

Martin Reed:
That was great. So, I think one thought that you can have which maybe you would consider one of your negative sleep thoughts would be something maybe, “Oh, if I don’t sleep tonight, tomorrow will be awful.” So, you’ve kind of identified that as a thought that is a challenge for you. So, then, you’ve put some effort into making the next days better, independently of how you sleep and then through your own experience. Maybe you’ve been able to turn that thought on its head. So, one like, “If I don’t sleep well tonight, I know that there are things I can do to feel better during the day tomorrow.”

Martin Reed:
That’s just off the top of my head. Is that the kind of thing that you’re getting out, like the way you can just transform your way of thinking around sleep?

Jake Zandi:
Yeah, that’s basically it, no matter what. Because for me, if I didn’t do anything and I sat around and I felt bad for myself all day, those thoughts would continue to … I’d be in this rabbit hole of negative thinking about it. Even if you just go out, like you said, do something, take a walk, go around the block, even something so simple like that, it’s going to really change your mindset. It doesn’t sound like it might not work as well, but if you get out and just try it, you’ll notice the difference. It really works.

Martin Reed:
Yeah. Absolutely. All right, great, Jake. Well, thank you so much for coming onto the podcast. Again, I really appreciate you giving up the time out of your day. I think we covered lots of great points and I think it’s going to help lots and lots of people, everything that we’ve discussed. So, thank you.

Jake Zandi:
Well, thank you for having me, Martin. Thank you.

Martin Reed:
Thanks for listening to The Insomnia Coach Podcast. If you’re ready to implement evidence-based cognitive and behavioral techniques to improve your sleep but think you might need some additional support and guidance, I would love to help. There are two ways we can work together. First, you can get my online coaching course. This is the most popular option. My course combines sleep education with individualized coaching and is guaranteed to improve your sleep. You will learn new ways of thinking about sleep and implement better sleep habits over a period of eight weeks. This gives you time to build sleep confidence and notice results without feeling overwhelmed. You can get the course and start right now at insomniacoach.com/online.

Martin Reed:
I also offer a phone coaching package where we start with a one hour call. This can be voice only or video, your choice, and we come up with an initial two-week plan that will have you implementing cognitive and behavioral techniques that will lead to long term improvements in your sleep. You get unlimited email-based support and guidance for two weeks after the call along with a half-hour follow-up call at the end of the two weeks. You can book the phone coaching package at insomniacoach.com/phone.

Martin Reed:
I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Insomnia Coach Podcast. I’m Martin Reed, and as always, I’d like to leave you with this important reminder — you can sleep.

I want you to be the next insomnia success story I share! If you’re ready to improve your sleep using evidence-based techniques, click here to get my online insomnia coaching course. We can get started right now.

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