insomnia.jpegFor most people struggling with chronic insomnia, falling and staying asleep seems like a distant dream. As the hours tick by, anxiety and frustration begin to build up, making it even harder to drift off into a peaceful slumber. The lack of sleep can lead to numerous problems, affecting not only physical health but also mental well-being.

Many people try a prescription or over-the-counter sleep medicine. While medications can sometimes help the length of time it takes to fall asleep, they can also cause significant side effects and are known to prevent deep sleep and increase mortality risk. Side effects of sleeping pills may include dizziness, drowsiness, memory impairment, and drug-induced behaviors that can lead to accidents. 

According to decades of studies, the safest and most effective treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). Most people have never even heard of this method for achieving better sleep -- including Janet, a HealthspanMD patient who came to see us when her insomnia began to significantly affect her life.

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Keep reading to learn how HealthspanMD's own Maggie Thayer, PA was able to help Janet get a good night's sleep, improve her sleep quality in the long term, and make a difference in her overall health.

More Than Just 'Trouble Sleeping': Janet's Story

When Janet first came to see Maggie, she was seriously struggling to get a good night's rest. It all started when a family member’s serious accident stirred up the initial case of insomnia. Rather than returning to her usual sleep schedule once things calmed down, Janet got deeper and deeper into a cycle of poor sleep. 

Sometimes, she was so exhausted from the previous night that she could fall asleep immediately, only to wake up to a glowing “2:00 am” on her bedside clock (which she thought about throwing in the pool multiple times). Other nights, she’d lay awake staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning, frustrated and exhausted with her sleep problems. 

Janet tried herbal teas and over-the-counter supplements for insomnia, which may have worked once or twice, but they were unreliable or she felt even more groggy the next day.

To add to Janet's stress, she was concerned about other aspects of her health. Her blood pressure was higher than ever before, and she was putting on weight around her waist. She knew more medications weren’t the answer and she wanted to eat healthier and exercise more, but she just couldn’t seem to get the energy to maintain consistent habits. 

Months went by in the same cycle, and Janet was miserable. She lost the energy to do the things she loved doing. Her inability to fall asleep was stopping her from living her life. She felt she had lost all control.

A Chronic Insomnia Diagnosis: NOT the End of Quality Sleep

Unsurprisingly, Maggie diagnosed Janet with chronic primary insomnia. A third of Americans report having trouble falling asleep or not getting enough sleep, and insomnia is one of the most common complaints brought to a physician’s office.

Many patients who come to HealthspanMD tell us poor sleep is holding them back from optimizing the rest of their Healthspan10

Maggie tells us, “In my practice, I see the same downward spiral Janet faced often. A stressful event leads to insomnia, which spirals out of control and becomes a serious issue. Some of my patients feel like they’ve been lifelong poor sleepers, and they cycle between acceptance of their fate and desperately trying various things to sleep better.”

Instead of giving in to insomnia as an unavoidable reality, Maggie began working with Janet to implement CBT-I, establish healthy sleep habits, and break the cycle of poor sleep. 

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is now recommended as the preferred treatment for chronic insomnia for adults by the National Institutes of Health, the American Psychological Association, and the American College of Physicians. It is based on over three decades of research and clinical practice at the Harvard Medical School and University of Massachusetts Medical School involving over 10,000 patients.

CBT-I is a sleep-focused, short-term, and structured program involving treatment sessions that improve sleep in 75% of insomnia patients. 80% of patients treated with CBT-I fall asleep faster, and 90% are able to reduce or eliminate sleep medication.

CBT-I: Taking Key Steps to Better Sleep Hygiene

The first thing Maggie did to help Janet was evaluate her situation in its entirety, taking note of her specific barriers to sleep. They met regularly to review her progress while discussing key components of sleep that many people are unaware of. Maggie and Janet used a sleep log to track progress and stay focused on the specific instructions given each week.

Maggie says, 'The techniques my patients and I use are cognitive restructuring, sleep scheduling, stimulus control, relaxation response, and sleep hygiene. The gist of it involves changing thoughts and behaviors to improve sleep efficiency. It can be thought of as strength training for sleep. For example, in sleep scheduling, a major technique is reducing the time allotted to sleep.'

After just 2 weeks, Janet noticed an improvement in her mood and energy. She had more mental clarity and peace of mind. Rather than just “getting through the day,” she was now able to focus more of her attention on her overall health. She started working with her Healthspan Coach to improve her nutrition and find 20-30 minutes each day to exercise.

Today, Janet is sleeping better than she ever has, and occasional rough nights no longer dictate the thoughts and events of the following day. She was even able to organize and lead a fundraising event, which is something she thought she could never do in the past due to her poor sleep. The weight around her waist began to fall off (she noticed she had to poke new holes in her belt!) and her blood pressure numbers were in normal ranges. 

Janet continues to work with her Healthspan coach after completing CBT-I with Maggie. Her goals have now shifted to maintaining healthy blood pressure, building strength, and enjoying time with her grandchildren.

Maggie Thayer, PA: Treating Patients With Full Attention & Empathy

Maggie Thayer, PA, is an integral part of HealthspanMD Primary Care. With nearly 10 years of experience in delivering exceptional patient care, Maggie has honed her expertise in all aspects of primary care, specializing in the management of depression, treating anxiety disorders, and utilizing cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep disorders. 

Her approach to healthcare is holistic and patient-centered, ensuring that each individual's unique needs are met with full attention and empathy. Maggie's passion for enhancing patient well-being is evident in her commitment to continuous learning and her ability to establish trusting relationships with her patients.

At HealthspanMD, she is a vital member of our team, contributing to our mission of helping patients achieve optimal health and longevity through high-quality healthcare.

CBT-I at HealthspanMD for Better Sleep Quality

Janet is not the only patient who has turned their life around by prioritizing restorative sleep. HealthspanMD believes sleep quality is a key component of health and longevity and offers the safest and most effective treatment for insomnia. 

If you're concerned about your sleep and you are motivated to sleep better, Maggie Thayer, PA is a CBT-I-trained professional. She can help you make the necessary changes to improve, reverse, or manage your insomnia, reducing your risk of chronic disease and helping you live the life you want. 

CBT-I generally consists of 5 sessions that last 30-45 minutes, and it is almost always covered by insurance.Schedule an appointment online or call our office today at 480-847-2575 if you are interested in working with Maggie. 

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