Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects about 10-30% of adults worldwide. It’s defined as a difficulty getting to sleep and/or staying asleep and persists over a period of time. Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors, including the genes you’re born with, stress, changes in sleep schedules and health issues. Luckily, it’s very treatable and there are available tools that can effectively change your relationship with sleep and improve your sleep quality.
Podcast guest, Spencer Richards, Ph.D., is back to offer ways to overcome insomnia. Spencer works as a full-time clinical health psychologist and specializes in the treatment of concerns that arise in the space where our mental and physical health meet. He holds specialty training that includes insomnia, chronic pain, weight management and emotional eating, chronic illness management, and improving overall well-being.
In this episode, Spencer defines insomnia and explains how good sleep hygiene is necessary but insufficient for this condition. He walks us through how to get out of your body’s way of receiving sleep signals, what causes insomnia, and how using a sleep diary is an important tool to examine patterns of sleep. Spencer describes sleep consolidation, offers his view on naps, and gives advice on how to decrease the length of time you spend in bed awake.
- Insomnia is not a momentary blip in sleep. It’s a prolonged issue that gets in the way of us living our life in the way we want it.
- For insomnia disorder, behavioral treatments such as CBTI (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) and MBTI (mindfulness behavioral treatment for insomnia) are effective tools for treatment.
- How can we get out of our body’s way of recognizing sleep signals? Examples are eating too late, being too active at night, inconsistent wake times, and not enough activity during the day.
- Some of us have a genetic predisposition for being light, restless sleepers.
- Spencer advises his patients to use a sleep diary because we’re bad at retrospectively remembering our sleep.
- The 3 P’s of insomnia that contribute to the development and maintenance of chronic insomnia: predisposing factors (the genes you’re born with), precipitating factors (change in jobs, loss, traumatic event, etc.), and perpetuating factors (keep sleep problems persisting over time).
- Putting extra sleep pressure through sleep consolidation or restriction therapy is one of Spencer’s common approaches. Although it’s not appropriate for certain disorders, like bipolar disorder.
- If we’re having our sleep cycles disrupted, we don’t jump back in where we left off. We start the process all over.
- If you don’t fall asleep within 15 to 20 minutes from the time you’re trying to sleep, get up and out of bed. Go do boring, quiet things (breathing, stretching, or reading something boring).
- Spencer doesn’t recommended naps for individuals who have insomnia (or are undergoing treatment for insomnia).
- If you do nap, he suggests they fall early in the day and are short (less than 30 minutes).
Spencer works as a full-time clinical health psychologist and specializes in the treatment of concerns that arise in the space where our mental and physical health meet. Specific areas where he holds specialty training include insomnia, chronic pain, weight management and emotional eating, chronic illness management (e.g., diabetes, MS, or other significant and life limiting illnesses), and improving overall well-being.
Spencer views physical and mental health as two sides of the same coin – you’re one whole person. He views himself as working somewhere between a therapist and a health coach, helping his clients identify what feels most important in life, what’s in the way of living how they would like to be living, and getting moving toward the best lives they can live. He practices by the principal that the point of therapy is not needing it. To that end, he is goal-focused and use the best possible treatments available to get moving toward a better life.