We’re really into falling asleep around here, and thus, really into winding down. We’re so interested in before-bed “me time” that we’re asking the experts for their personal sleep routines.
Martin Reed is the founder of Insomnia Coach, a company that offers sleep coaching programs for adults with chronic insomnia. We chatted about what exactly an insomnia coach is, his own personal routine, and what can work for others.
COOP: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey with insomnia, and how you became an insomnia coach?
MARTIN REED: My insomnia journey began shortly after I emigrated to the United States from the United Kingdom in 2008. I had never experienced insomnia before, so when it affected me I was taken by surprise. Luckily, my attempts to improve my sleep led me to evidence-based techniques that get to the root cause of insomnia—our sleep-related thoughts and behaviors! I found these techniques so helpful but also, unfortunately, too hard to find—so I decided to share this knowledge with others by creating my sleep coaching company, Insomnia Coach!
C: What is CBT-I?
MR: CBT-I stands for cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. Put simply, CBT-I aims to tackle the thoughts and behaviors that can perpetuate sleep disruption. As an example, many people with insomnia spend too much time in bed because they want to get more sleep. Unfortunately, this usually leads to more time awake rather than more time asleep—and this, in turn, leads to more sleep-related worry and more sleep disruption. So, one component of CBT-I involves spending an amount of time in bed that is closer to your average nightly sleep duration. This helps reduce nighttime wakefulness and builds sleep drive—something that makes it easier to fall asleep (and stay asleep)!
C: Everybody’s wind-down routine is specific to them—what is your goal with yours?
MR: My personal goal with my wind-down routine is to unwind and relax—to enjoy some time doing things I find relaxing and enjoyable before going to bed.
C: Do you give yourself time before bed to relax and get ready for sleep? If so, how much time?
MR: This isn’t something I pay much attention to, and it varies according to how sleepy I am! Sometimes I will watch a lot of TV, sometimes I will simply go to bed and read for a bit (these days I find it hard to make it past about three pages of the book I am reading)!
C: Can you walk us through your wind-down routine?
MR: Usually, after our two children are in bed, my wife and I will finish up any household chores. We’ll then either play some games (Boggle is a favorite!) or watch some TV. When I feel sleepy enough for sleep, I’ll brush my teeth and go to bed. Often I will read for a bit, but other times, I’ll switch out the lights right away.
C: Do you have any tips for people just starting out with a wind-down routine?
MR: There’s nothing specific we can do to make sleep happen, so I would encourage people simply to do whatever they find relaxing and enjoyable! It can be so helpful to take time to unwind before going to bed—for any parents reading this, we know it’s not helpful to put our children to bed when they are hyped and overstimulated! As adults, we should do the same! If we can also make that wind-down period a time of the day we really look forward to, we can help make the transition into sleep a lot more pleasant and seamless!