Show cover of Insomnia Coach® Podcast

Insomnia Coach® Podcast

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. In this podcast, I share insomnia success stories and expert interviews that I hope will motivate and inspire you to implement changes that can improve your sleep and transform your life.


How Jim stopped chasing after sleep and put over 10 years of insomnia behind him (#42)
Jim struggled with insomnia for over 10 years. At first, he thought it was a symptom of heavy drinking, a poor diet, working late, and experiencing a lot of stress. However, the insomnia stuck around even after Jim addressed these issues. This led to many years of ongoing sleep disruption, fear, frustration, and anxiety. In this episode, Jim shares the changes he made that helped him put his insomnia behind him. Ultimately, Jim stopped trying to fight or avoid nighttime wakefulness. He stopped trying to fight or avoid the difficult thoughts and feelings that often come with nighttime wakefulness. Today, Jim knows that he can still enjoy really good nights of sleep — even after the most stressful days — because he is no longer engaged in a competition with sleep.
54:06 09/08/2022
How Nick stopped his mind (and sleep) from controlling his life by letting go of the struggle with his mind (and sleep) (#41)
Nick's insomnia journey began in 2000 when he relocated and started a new job. Stress, uncertainty, and anxiety took over his life as he found that the more he tried to fight or avoid his thoughts the more powerful they became. Nick felt helpless. He didn't know how to deal with the difficult thoughts and feelings he was experiencing and he didn't know how to improve his sleep. The more he tried, the more he struggled. In this episode, Nick shares how he adopted a new approach to dealing with difficult thoughts and feelings. Instead of trying to control them, he began to acknowledge them and make space for them. Instead of fighting with them and getting distracted by them, he validated them and then redirected his attention on actions that would help him move toward the life he wanted to live. Nick practiced kindly bringing his mind back to the present whenever it started to time travel. He began to notice and savor all the things he was missing out on when he found himself running on autopilot. He started to focus on living a life aligned with his values — doing things that were important to him — even after difficult nights and even in the presence of uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Today, Nick has a different and more workable relationship with sleep and the full range of thoughts and feelings he experiences as a human being. He is no longer haunted by sleep. He sees sleep as part of his life but not his entire life.
68:10 07/29/2022
How Adam released himself from the prison cell he had built to protect him from insomnia (#40)
Adam's insomnia began the night before an important work presentation. After a really difficult night, Adam ended up calling in sick — and this planted a seed in his mind that told him that difficult nights would mean he couldn't go through with important plans. Safety behaviors such as canceling plans or avoiding activities in order to protect his sleep helped Adam feel a bit better in the short-term but over the long-term they were preventing him from living the kind of life he wanted to live. In other words, his comfort zone became more like a prison. In this episode, Adam shares how he learned to let go of his anxiety, his anger, his fear, and his intense desire to avoid nighttime wakefulness. He also talks about the benefits of self-kindness and how he managed to separate how he slept at night from his ability to engage in things that would help him live the kind of life he wanted to live and be the kind of person he wanted to be. Today, Adam has released himself from that prison cell. He is living his life and sleeping a lot better!
63:35 06/30/2022
How Juergen improved his sleep by becoming more willing to experience wakefulness and difficult thoughts, feelings, and emotions (#39)
As Juergen got older, his sleep began to change. Although this is normal, Juergen didn't know that at the time! And, just as he began to pay more attention to sleep, COVID hit, work stress increased, and all the places he used to enjoy going to got shut down. Juergen felt as though insomnia and all the difficult thoughts and feelings that come with it were starting to control his life. He felt as though he was losing himself and getting pulled away from the kind of life he wanted to live. This was when we started working together. Ultimately, Juergen became more willing to experience nighttime wakefulness. He became more accepting of the difficult thoughts and feelings that would show up. Juergen discovered that as long as he didn't try to battle with all the stuff that was out of his control he could free up all that energy to do things that would help him live the kind of life he wanted to live instead. The skills Juergen learned and repeatedly practiced also helped when tinnitus returned after a long absence. As a result, all the difficult stuff that is out of his control now has far less of an influence over his life — and he is also sleeping a lot better!
60:17 05/27/2022
How Kristina dealt with anxiety, worry, and stress as her insomnia shifted from difficulty staying asleep to difficulty falling asleep (#38)
Kristina had a very stressful job. One night, her husband woke her suddenly after experiencing a really bad nightmare. This event seemed to trigger the release of a lot of anxiety that had been building for some time and Kristina was unable to fall back to sleep. Unfortunately, sleep proved to be difficult on subsequent nights, too — and this created even more worry and anxiety. At first, Kristina found that she could fall asleep but would wake in the middle of the night with a racing mind and find it hard to fall back to sleep. This then shifted into difficulty falling asleep — and this change created even more anxiety and sleep disruption. After trying lots of things that didn't seem to help, Kristina started to do things that are known to starve insomnia of the oxygen it needs to survive. Instead of chasing sleep by going to bed earlier and staying in bed later, she started going to bed later at night — when she felt truly sleepy enough for sleep, rather than fatigued. She got out of bed by the same time each morning — no matter what. Whenever being awake at night didn't feel good, she did something more enjoyable instead. Perhaps most importantly, though, Kristina decided to work on shifting her focus back to the present moment and what was in her control. She engaged in things each day that helped her continue to move toward the kind of life she wanted to live, independently of sleep and even in the presence of difficult thoughts and feelings.
65:52 04/28/2022
How Deeandra reclaimed her life from insomnia and got her sleep back on track without medication (#37)
Deeandra always slept well but a stressful period in her life led to 48 hours of no sleep whatsoever and this generated a lot of anxiety. Deeandra started to panic and thought that she had lost the ability to sleep. Doctors gave her different medications that didn't always seem to be helpful and came with their own set of side effects. For three years, Deeandra put her life on hold while she engaged in a long list of rituals and experiments in an attempt to improve her sleep. Gradually, Deeandra moved away from trying to control sleep and avoid nighttime wakefulness. She started to go to bed only when sleepy enough for sleep. She decided to live her life regardless of how she slept at night. She started to do things she'd withdrawn from — she no longer canceled plans, she started to exercise again. Little by little she reclaimed her life from insomnia — and her sleep began to improve. Today, Deeandra averages around six to seven hours of sleep. She still has difficult nights from time to time but they no longer have such an effect on her life. In Deeandra's own words, "life is about the time we spend awake, not the time that we sleep".
65:56 03/29/2022
How Wayne improved his sleep by thinking of sleep as a friend that doesn’t need to be controlled (#36)
Wayne's experience with insomnia began when he was preparing for his board exams. Because he needed to get up earlier than usual, he started going to bed earlier than usual. Unfortunately, this made it harder for Wayne to fall asleep — and, as a result, nights started to become stressful and he began to experience a lot of sleep-related anxiety. Ultimately, Wayne got his sleep back on track by recognizing that sleep is a natural process that doesn't require or respond well to effort. He started to go to bed later at night. He started to make some space for difficult thoughts, feelings, and emotions rather than trying to fight them, and he reminded himself that sleep always happens in the end. This process took time but today, Wayne thinks of sleep as a friend — not as an enemy or something to be feared. He no longer puts pressure on himself to sleep and he no longer puts any effort into sleep. As a result, he sleeps well and is living the kind of life he wants to live.
60:54 02/25/2022
How Felicity transformed her relationship with sleep by practicing new sleep habits, being kinder to herself, and living life independently of sleep (#35)
Felicity had struggled with sleep, on and off, for her entire life. Usually, her sleep would get back on track after a few months of sleep disruption — however, when sleep issues returned due to some big life changes, Felicity's sleep didn't recover. Fortunately, Felicity was able to get her sleep back on track and change her mindset about sleep by implementing behaviors that created better conditions for sleep. She practiced self-care and did things that helped her continue to move toward the kind of life she wanted to live, independently of sleep. Sleep is no longer something that gets in the way of Felicity's life — she lives her life independently of sleep and, as a result, she is sleeping well and living well.
69:46 01/31/2022
How Amy went from an intense fear of insomnia and feeling her situation was hopeless to averaging over seven hours of sleep each night (#34)
Night after night of wakefulness led Amy to a dark place where she saw no way out. She felt helpless and doomed to a life of insomnia. Ironically, Amy became friends with someone else who was struggling with insomnia. This friend ended up enrolling as a client of mine and started to experience improvements in their sleep. Amy learned more about the behavioral changes he was making, and — even though she assumed these wouldn't work for her — she figured she was already suffering so much, nothing she could do could make her situation worse. So, Amy started to spend less time in bed, she abandoned her sleep rituals, and she shifted away from trying to control sleep and all the thoughts and worries her mind would generate. After weeks of ups and downs, Amy started to get more sleep, more consistently. Now, she averages around seven or more hours of sleep each night and considers her transformation nothing short of a miracle. Amy's story shows that no matter how desperate things feel, no matter how severe your insomnia may be, there is always hope. If you are willing and able to make some changes to your current sleep habits and your current relationship with the difficult thoughts and emotions that like to accompany insomnia, you can get to a place where you will realize that you CAN sleep!
58:14 12/01/2021
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.
50:15 10/29/2021
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.
67:30 09/29/2021
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.
59:01 08/26/2021
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.
67:29 07/28/2021
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.
68:58 06/30/2021
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.
57:03 05/07/2021
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!
64:27 03/30/2021
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.
77:54 02/25/2021
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.
48:42 01/15/2021
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.
57:09 11/25/2020
How Jennifer got through setbacks and relapses while implementing techniques that transformed her sleep after 25 years of insomnia (#23)
Jennifer's insomnia was deeply entrenched. After working with me for four weeks, she felt as though it was becoming more difficult to get through the day, her sleep had not improved, and she was understandably feeling discouraged. However, Jennifer kept going and four weeks later she was happier with her progress. She was experiencing less daytime fatigue and getting more sleep but she was still finding it hard to fall back to sleep when she woke during the night. In this episode, Jennifer shares how she coped with setbacks by focussing on the process rather than progress and tells us about the moment she realized that she knew exactly how to respond to sleep disruption and understood that she was now armed with life-long skills that would enable her to enjoy better sleep for the rest of her life.
60:44 10/30/2020
How Jessica transformed her relationship with sleep by challenging her sleep-related thoughts and changing her sleep-related behaviors (#22)
When Jessica moved back to her hometown with her husband and two children she began to struggle with sleep. When nothing she tried seemed to work, she started to believe that she'd lost the ability to sleep and was losing hope — until she learned more about how insomnia develops and realized that her insomnia wasn't unique or unusual. When Jessica recognized many of the common thoughts and behaviors that perpetuate sleep disruption in her own experience with insomnia, she started to feel a sense of hope. This allowed her to start exploring and challenging her beliefs about sleep while implementing behaviors that build sleep drive, strengthen the body clock, and reduce sleep-related worry and anxiety. Today, Jessica rarely thinks about sleep and it no longer controls her life.
49:14 09/22/2020
How health-conscious Anafer shed her identity as an insomniac and now focuses on her career, relationships, and personal happiness rather than sleep (#21)
Anafer believed that she was born with insomnia. Sleep was a problem for her for as long as she could remember. After years of doing her own research, speaking with health professionals, and taking various supplements and prescription pills, Anafer's insomnia was becoming unbearable. After graduating from college, Anafer decided she needed to address her sleep issues before starting her career in dietetics. Two years ago, she came across my online coaching course and is now here to share her transformation and the ups and downs she experienced on her journey to better sleep and restored sleep confidence.
53:44 08/11/2020
A conversation about sleeping pills with Dr. Wallace B. Mendelson (#20)
Dr. Mendelson is a psychiatrist, sleep doctor, and author who works primarily in the field of sleep research and sleep medicine. He is perhaps best known for his research related to the properties of sleeping pills and the effect of medication on sleep. In this episode, Dr. Mendelson describes the evolution of sleeping pills, explains how they work, and shares information on their potential side-effects. We also talk about over-the-counter pills and supplements, and the evidence-based alternative to sleeping pills and recommended first-line treatment for chronic insomnia — cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).
59:40 07/16/2020
How Sally improved her sleep after 60 years of insomnia and 10 years of sleeping pills (#19)
Sally had been living with insomnia for 60 years and had been taking sleeping pills for 10 years. She believed that she would never be able to sleep properly — but this all changed when she started to change the way she thought about sleep and began to implement new sleep-related behaviors that made it easier for her body to generate and sustain sleep. Sally used to average around three hours of sleep each night. She now averages around seven hours of sleep each night and barely thinks about sleep. In this episode, Sally shares what she did to improve her sleep after living with insomnia for 60 years. If Sally was able to improve her sleep, you can too!
53:16 06/19/2020
How Rick’s retirement triggered a two-year struggle with insomnia and what he did to get his sleep back on track (#18)
Rick's insomnia started in 2017 shortly after retirement. He started to wake during the night and would find it hard to fall back to sleep. Before long, he started to feel very anxious every time he woke and began to worry about what the day would be like after each difficult night of sleep. Fortunately, Rick discovered evidence-based cognitive and behavioral techniques that changed the way he thought about sleep and helped him implement behaviors that would improve his sleep for the long-term. Today, Rick averages somewhere between seven and seven-and-a-half hours of sleep each night. In this episode, Rick shares all the techniques he implemented to transform his relationship with sleep. Just as Rick was able to improve his sleep, you can too!
63:03 05/20/2020
How Anna went from not feeling sleepy at night and thinking her sleep system was broken to sleeping well and with confidence (#17)
For five years, Anna experienced short episodes of insomnia that would last for a week or two before disappearing. However, when her mother fell ill and required surgery, Anna found it very difficult to fall asleep and this time, even though her mother recovered, Anna's sleep did not. Anna got to the point where she just didn't feel sleepy when she went to bed and this made her think that her sleep system was broken. Today, Anna doesn't really think about sleep and she gets somewhere around seven-and-a-half to eight hours of sleep each night. In this episode, Anna shares everything she did to improve her sleep and also reveals how she coped with the typical setbacks most of us experience on the road to recovery.
61:56 04/21/2020
How Gretchen went from believing she was the world’s worst sleeper to someone who sleeps well and has confidence in her own natural ability to sleep (#16)
Gretchen is a pediatrician and the mother of three children. Her sleep was regularly disrupted as she worked shifts during college and was on call during her pediatric residency. After having children and then entering early menopause, Gretchen started to spend hours awake during the night. This led to sleep-related worry and anxiety that combined with work stress to make sleep more frustrating and more difficult. In this episode, Gretchen talks about how changing the way she thinks about sleep and implementing constructive sleep-related behaviors helped her improve her sleep significantly — and how setbacks along the way didn't lead to insomnia working its way back into her life. Gretchen went from believing she was the world's worst sleeper to looking forward to going to bed at night! Gretchen did it — and you can, too!
51:05 03/19/2020
How sleep restriction helped Dave fall asleep faster, spend less time awake during the night, and get more sleep (#15)
Dave often experienced difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep and this became more of a problem once he became a father. After an overseas trip, Dave's sleep really took a turn for the worse — not only did he find it hard to fall asleep, he would also wake around 3:00 AM and find it very difficult (if not impossible) to fall back to sleep. Fortunately, Dave found out about sleep restriction — a core component of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). In this episode, Dave shares his transformation and explains how sleep restriction improved his sleep and why consistency and persistence are so important if you want to enjoy better sleep for the long term.
55:54 02/24/2020
How Bill’s health scare led to insomnia and how tackling sleep-related thoughts and behaviors helped him improve his sleep (#14)
In August 2018, Bill was admitted to hospital with a suspected heart attack and this triggered an intense period of insomnia that led to progressively worse sleep. Bill soon found himself following a long list of pre-sleep rituals that did not improve his sleep but did lead to more sleep-related worry. Fortunately, Bill was told about cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) and was able to get his sleep back on track. In this episode, Bill tells us how his insomnia developed, all the ways he tried unsuccessfully to improve his sleep, and he shares the specific techniques that he found to be most helpful for improving his sleep.
54:45 01/31/2020
Busting sleep and insomnia myths with clinical psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist Dr. Jade Wu (#13)
Dr. Jade Wu is a clinical psychologist and behavioral sleep medicine specialist at Duke University School of Medicine. In this episode, Jade and I discuss a number of concerns that are common among people with chronic insomnia — we talk about how much sleep we need, whether we can lose our ability to sleep, whether insomnia is caused by a chemical imbalance in the body, whether chronic insomnia causes any serious health problems, and whether we have any control over the negative impact insomnia can have on our lives. My aim with this episode is to help change the way you think about sleep and insomnia. I hope this will help reduce the intensity of any worry or anxiety that might be making it more difficult for you to improve your sleep and encourage you to pursue CBT-I so you can enjoy better sleep for the rest of your life.
63:08 01/15/2020