How Jennifer moved past 18 years of insomnia by exploring her sleep-related beliefs and recognizing her own insomnia in the stories of others (#33)

Jennifer’s issues with sleep began 18 years ago when she started to wean her firstborn from breastfeeding. When Jennifer fell pregnant again, things got better — until it was time to wean her second child. As the mother of five children, Jennifer went through this cycle for a long time — and when she decided that she was done having children, she started to get really nervous about sleep.

After listening to a few episodes of the Insomnia Coach podcast, Jennifer felt that it was her belief system that was the real reason why she was enduring an endless struggle with sleep. At this point, she felt ready to implement some changes that would lead to new habits and a new relationship with her thoughts and beliefs that would help create better conditions for sleep.

Ultimately, Jennifer regained confidence in her natural ability to sleep after learning that she wasn’t alone and that other people were experiencing insomnia in a similar way to her, and by making changes to her behaviors and the relationship she had with her thoughts. It was these changes that helped create better conditions for sleep and helped Jennifer put chronic insomnia behind her.

How Jovana put insomnia behind her by recognizing that her insomnia wasn’t unique and that sleep is a natural process that cannot be controlled (#32)

In 2019, Jovana experienced a night of no sleep whatsoever but she was confident that she would get some sleep the following night. However, the next night was just the same — Jovana didn’t get one minute of sleep.

At this point, she started to panic, and her anxiety was further compounded by the fact she was a new mom. Jovana started to dread going to bed. She felt frustrated. She felt lonely. Fortunately, she found the Insomnia Coach YouTube channel and the Insomnia Coach podcast and started to realize that she was not alone and that her insomnia was not unusual or unique.

Ultimately, Jovana stopped the endless sleep-related research and ongoing detective work. She stopped experimenting with medication and supplements. She started to remove herself from the process of sleep and began to accept that sleep cannot be controlled. At the same time, she committed to actions that helped her move toward the kind of life she wanted to live, even after difficult nights and even in the presence of difficult thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

As a result, Jovana regained confidence in her natural ability to sleep and is once again living the kind of life she wants to live.

How Cindy tackled the insomnia that appeared after her baby was born by accepting nighttime wakefulness and eliminating safety behaviors (#31)

Cindy developed postpartum depression shortly after her daughter was born and was prescribed medication to help her sleep. The medication seemed to work at first but Cindy soon found that it wasn’t helping and this led to more anxiety and more sleep difficulties.

Ultimately, Cindy stopped putting pressure on herself to sleep. She stopped striving for sleep, she stopped putting effort into sleep, she stopped trying to fight or avoid sleep-related anxiety, and she started to recognize that all the anxious thoughts produced by her brain were just that — thoughts. Nothing more and nothing less.

Today, Cindy doesn’t take any sleep medication and she is sleeping well. Perhaps one of the biggest insights she shared is that she no longer uses sleep itself as a measure of her success. In Cindy’s words, it’s our relationship with sleep that is the true measure of success.

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

Jake’s sleep was severely disrupted when the COVID pandemic forced him to work from home. He soon found himself working at all hours and during weekends. 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.

As Jake learned more about sleep and insomnia he started to implement 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.

How Celia improved her sleep by abandoning all attempts to control her sleep and accepting and acknowledging anxious thoughts rather than trying to fight or avoid them (#29)

From a very young age, Celia would often try to control her sleep and often used medication to get her through her frequent bouts of insomnia. After the birth of her son and the emergence of the COVID pandemic, Celia became even more fixated on sleep. All of her old sleep crutches seemed to stop working and she didn’t know what to do.

Celia recognized that it was her desire to control sleep and her sleep-related thoughts that was a big part of the problem. When she was able to accept that she couldn’t directly control sleep or her thoughts and committed to implementing behaviors that would create better conditions for sleep and help her live life according to her values, she was able to starve her insomnia of the oxygen it craved and enjoy the life (and sleep) that she wanted.

How Chad improved his sleep by undoing all the changes he had made in response to his insomnia (#28)

Chad experienced some sleepless nights during a stressful period at work but his sleep started to get back on track — until one completely sleepless night created an avalanche of anxiety and insomnia. Fortunately, Chad discovered that it was his obsession with sleep and the changes he had made in response to difficult nights that were giving insomnia the oxygen it needed to survive.

So, he started to undo all those changes. By abandoning all efforts to create or control sleep and by living his life according to his values, regardless of how he slept, Chad was able to shift attention away from sleep, create better conditions for sleep to happen, and put his insomnia behind him.

How Pat got rid of her insomnia by embracing a philosophy of “fake it until you make it” and accepting anxious thoughts (#27)

Pat decided to approach each day pretending that she’d had a good night of sleep. She went about her days as normal and pursued enjoyable and enriching daytime activities, independently of how she slept. She also stopped talking about insomnia.

Pat shifted her attention away from sleep and refused to allow sleep to control her life. She also stopped all attempts to control anxious thoughts and instead, chose to acknowledge and accept them. The final piece of the puzzle came when Pat was able to abandon all attempts to control her progress and was able to accept that sleep is something that cannot be controlled.

As Pat discovered, if we can place less importance on sleep and refuse to allow sleep to control our lives, sleep often becomes a whole lot easier!

How Hannah got her sleep back to normal after COVID by caring less about sleep while creating better conditions for sleep (#26)

Like many of us, Hannah began experiencing sleep disruption during the COVID pandemic. When it became clear that lockdowns were likely to be extended, Hannah started to find it harder to fall asleep. Before long, she also found it hard to stay asleep, too.

In this episode, Hannah talks about the new sleep habits she developed and how she changed her relationship with sleep-related thoughts, and tested the sleep-related beliefs that made sleep more difficult.

Ultimately, Hannah found that abandoning all attempts to control sleep, accepting difficult nights of sleep and sleep-related worry, committing to new sleep habits, and going about her days as normally as possible really helped her get her sleep back on track.

How Susie stopped sleep from controlling her life, regained trust in her natural ability to sleep, and learned to love her bedroom (#25)

Susie never had a great relationship with sleep — but dealing with her insomnia wasn’t something that was high on her list of priorities. That all changed, however, when Susie went overseas and her sleeping pills seemed to suddenly stop working. Quite understandably, Susie’s anxiety skyrocketed and she ended up cutting her vacation short and returning home.

In this episode, Susie talks about the changes she made to create significantly better conditions for sleep. She also discusses the challenges she faced as she implemented these changes, and describes the ups and downs she experienced along the way. Today, Susie loves her bedroom, loves sleep, and is confident in her natural ability to sleep.

How Michelle got to the root cause of her insomnia and improved her sleep after 15 years of unhelpful experiments, research, and sleep efforts (#24)

Michelle spent 15 years researching sleep and trying lots of different things to get rid of her insomnia. She did all she could to control her sleep but all that happened was sleep (or a lack of it) ended up controlling her as it slowly became an obsession and took a hugely influential role in her life.

In this episode, Michelle shares the techniques she found most helpful, talks about the short-term difficulties she experienced when changing her sleep habits, and shares how she ended up modifying two core behavioral techniques — sleep restriction and stimulus control — to better suit her while also abandoning all efforts to control sleep.