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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How Juergen improved his sleep by becoming more willing to experience wakefulness and difficult thoughts, feelings, and emotions (#39)

Juergen smiling at the camera while sitting in front of a door

As Juergen grew older, his sleep patterns started to change, which is a normal part of aging. However, at the time he didn’t realize this. As he began to pay more attention to his sleep, the COVID pandemic hit, increasing his work stress, and shutting down all the places he enjoyed going to. Juergen started to feel as if insomnia and the difficult emotions that came with it were controlling his life, causing him to lose sight of the life he wanted to live.

Over time, Juergen became more open to experiencing wakefulness at night and learned to accept the difficult thoughts and feelings that came with it. He found that by not fighting against the things he couldn’t control, he was able to redirect his energy towards activities that aligned with his values and goals. The skills he learned also proved useful when tinnitus returned after a long absence.

As a result, the things outside of Juergen’s control now have less influence over his life, and he is sleeping much better.

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How Kristina dealt with anxiety, worry, and stress as her insomnia shifted from difficulty staying asleep to difficulty falling asleep (#38)

Kristina smiling at the camera in front of a blurred background

Kristina had a demanding job that caused a lot of stress. One night, her husband woke her up after having a nightmare, triggering a release of anxiety that had been building up for some time. This made it difficult for her to fall back to sleep, which only caused more worry and anxiety in the following nights.

At first, Kristina could fall asleep but would wake up with a racing mind in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back to sleep. But then, she began having trouble falling asleep altogether, which caused more anxiety and sleep disruption.

Kristina discovered that the most effective way to combat her insomnia was to deprive it of the things it needed to survive. Rather than going to bed early or staying in bed late, Kristina adjusted her bedtime to when she felt genuinely sleepy, rather than just tired. She also made sure to get out of bed at the same time every morning, regardless of how much sleep she had gotten. If she felt uncomfortable being awake at night, she would engage in an enjoyable activity instead.

Most importantly, Kristina learned to focus on the present moment and what was under her control. She continued to work towards the life she wanted to live, independent of her sleep and even when experiencing difficult thoughts and emotions.

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How Deeandra reclaimed her life from insomnia and got her sleep back on track without medication (#37)

podcast cover art with photo of Martin and title of podcast episode 37

Deeandra used to sleep well until a stressful time in her life caused her to go without sleep for 48 hours, causing anxiety. She worried that she had lost the ability to sleep and tried different medications, but they didn’t work well and had side effects. For three years, Deeandra tried different rituals and experiments to sleep better, putting her life on hold.

Gradually, Deeandra learned to let go of control and not avoid wakefulness at night. She only went to bed when she was actually sleepy, and started living her life regardless of how she slept at night. She resumed activities she had withdrawn from and even started exercising again. Over time, she reclaimed her life from insomnia, and her sleep improved.

Now, Deeandra sleeps for an average of six to seven hours a night, and even though she still has difficult nights, they no longer control her life. In her own words, “life is about the time we spend awake, not the time that we sleep”.

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