How Maria faced the fear of insomnia by allowing it to exist and discovered that all its power came from how she responded to it (#49)

Maria smiling at the camera as she talking about facing the fear of insomnia

After experiencing anxiety and panic attacks and not sleeping for 72 hours, Maria thought she had lost the ability to sleep. Medication wasn’t working. She withdrew from life. She couldn’t focus on anything other than sleep.

Feeling completely stuck, Maria changed her approach. Instead of trying to fight or avoid insomnia, she allowed it to show up whenever it chose. Instead of trying to fight or avoid the difficult thoughts and feelings that often come with insomnia, she allowed them to come and go as they pleased.

Maria also started to do more of the things that mattered to her, even when insomnia was present and even when her mind was telling her she couldn’t leave the house. All these actions stripped insomnia of its power and influence and allowed Maria to redirect her energy and attention away from an ongoing struggle and toward living the life she wanted to live.

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How Leah freed herself from the insomnia struggle by abandoning her efforts to control sleep (#48)

Leah smiling as she talks about moving away from putting effort into sleep

Leah experienced insomnia from her teenage years. As an adult it would often come and go, until it came and didn’t go! This made it difficult for Leah to live the life she wanted to live. To do the things that mattered to her. Sleeping pills didn’t help, and she felt stuck.

So, Leah decided to change her approach. She realized that canceling plans after sleepless nights didn’t make things any better and so she committed to following through on her plans, regardless of how she felt. Instead of putting effort into sleep, she gave her body the opportunity to take care of sleep all by itself. She also practiced observing her thoughts instead of trying to control them.

By doing things that mattered to her, Leah freed herself from the insomnia struggle. Now, sleep feels more natural and she is living the life she wants to live, independently of sleep.

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How Amanda reclaimed her life from insomnia and abandoned all the rules and rituals that were making things more difficult (#47)

Amanda smiling and talking about how she reclaimed her life from insomnia

Amanda’s insomnia was triggered by a number of stressors — having a baby, relocating, getting a new job, and dealing with a toxic parent.

She tried several sleep aids and implemented a number of sleep rules and rituals but found no real relief until she explored a different approach.

She started to acknowledge and accept her thoughts and feelings instead of trying to control them. She started to get more comfortable with nighttime wakefulness. And, she started to focus on the good things in her life and doing things that mattered to her.

As a result, she was able to move away from chasing after sleep and successfully reclaimed her life from insomnia.

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How Eddie got through the ups and downs of insomnia by implementing a plan that stopped it from controlling his life (#46)

Eddie smiling at the camera in front of a chalkboard

For more than a decade, Eddie struggled with sleep. He had good nights and bad nights, and just when he thought his sleep was back on track, it would slip away again. The harder it became to sleep, the more he struggled, and the less he did the things he loved.

Eddie’s transformation started when he stopped trying to force sleep and began developing healthy sleep habits. He also took the time to figure out what insomnia was preventing him from doing and what it was taking away from him. Despite restless nights, he made a commitment to do what mattered most to him.

Now, Eddie sees his battle with insomnia as a source of strength. He’s not happy about his experience, but he’s not sad either. Instead, he’s grateful for what he’s learned and the resilience he’s gained.

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How Jeannette got back on track after an insomnia relapse and how ongoing practice helped her move away from ongoing struggle (#45)

Jeannette smiling and sitting in front of a bed

Jeannette’s sleep improved after working with me but one night she couldn’t fall back to sleep and her old fears returned. She felt like something was wrong with her as this continued, night after night. This led Jeannette back into her old safety behaviors, even though she knew they weren’t helpful.

In this episode, Jeannette shares how she moved away from struggling with insomnia. She became more comfortable with nighttime wakefulness, stopped chasing after sleep, allowed her mind to generate whatever thoughts it wanted (even difficult ones), and started being kinder to herself.

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How Eric changed the way he responded to insomnia, stopped battling with his mind, and improved his sleep for the long term (#44)

Eric wearing headphones and smiling at the camera

Eric, like many people with chronic insomnia, discovered that trying to fall asleep only made it harder. Although he had no trouble falling asleep, he woke up frequently at night and struggled to drift off again due to racing thoughts and anxiety. Eric was fixated on sleeping and despite trying everything, he couldn’t seem to relax or improve.

After we started working together, Eric reduced his allotted sleep time to match his actual sleep duration and learned to manage nighttime wakefulness better. He also committed to living the life he wanted independently of sleep. By changing how he responded to his insomnia and the associated difficulties, Eric’s sleep improved dramatically. He no longer relies on sleeping pills and, more than a year and a half later, he no longer battles his mind daily and sleeps well.

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How Vicky changed her approach to insomnia when sleeping pills stopped working after 20 years (#43)

Vicky wearing headphones and smiling at the camera

Vicky used to manage her insomnia by taking sleeping pills for 20 years, until one night when they stopped working. This left her feeling alone and anxious, and she started to experience panic attacks when waking up in the middle of the night. To tackle this, Vicky adopted a new approach to insomnia that involved letting go of the struggle. She realized that unpleasant thoughts and feelings didn’t need to prevent her from doing what mattered to her. She committed to engaging in meaningful activities, even after difficult nights and despite uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.

Nowadays, Vicky still has some difficult nights occasionally, but she is no longer battling her mind all day and night. She is living the life she wants, even when faced with discomfort. In fact, Vicky considers her insomnia a gift, as it has helped her develop resilience and react more effectively to the difficulties we all face as human beings.

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How Jim stopped chasing after sleep and put over 10 years of insomnia behind him (#42)

Jim in an office and smiling at the camera

Jim dealt with insomnia for a decade, initially thinking it was due to heavy drinking, poor diet, late work hours, and high stress. However, his insomnia persisted even after resolving these issues, leading to years of sleep disruption, fear, frustration, and anxiety.

In this episode, Jim discusses the changes he made to overcome his insomnia. Ultimately, he stopped struggling against and avoiding nighttime wakefulness, as well as the difficult thoughts and feelings that often accompany it. Today, Jim can enjoy restful sleep, even after stressful days, because he is no longer in a competition with sleep.

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How Nick stopped his mind (and sleep) from controlling his life by letting go of the struggle with his mind (and sleep) (#41)

Nick looking at the camera with a plant in the background

Nick started experiencing insomnia in 2000 when he relocated and began a new job. His life was consumed with stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, and he found that trying to avoid or fight his thoughts only made them stronger. Nick felt helpless and didn’t know how to improve his sleep or manage his difficult thoughts and emotions.

In this episode, Nick talks about how he adopted a new approach to dealing with all this difficult stuff. Rather than trying to control his thoughts and feelings, he learned to acknowledge and accept them. Instead of getting distracted by them, he redirected his attention towards actions that would help him move towards the life he wanted to live.

Nick started focusing on living a life that was aligned with his values, doing things that were important to him even on difficult nights when he experienced uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. He learned to bring his mind back to the present and notice and appreciate the things he was missing out on when he was lost in thought.

Today, Nick has a more workable relationship with sleep and the full range of thoughts and feelings that come with it. He no longer sees sleep as the sole focus of his life and is not haunted by it anymore.

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How Adam released himself from the prison cell he had built to protect him from insomnia (#40)

Adam smiling at the camera with a bookshelf behind him

Adam’s struggle with insomnia began the night before an important work presentation. A difficult night led to him calling in sick and planted a seed in his mind that difficult nights would interfere with important plans.

To feel better in the short-term, Adam used safety behaviors like canceling plans or avoiding activities to protect his sleep. However, these behaviors prevented him from living the life he wanted in the long-term, turning his comfort zone into a prison.

In this episode, Adam shares how he learned to let go of his anxiety, fear, and intense desire to avoid nighttime wakefulness. He also talks about the benefits of self-kindness and how he separated his ability to sleep at night from his ability to engage in activities that aligned with his values and aspirations.

Today, Adam is free from his self-imposed prison and is living the life he wants, sleeping much better in the process.

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