The Entrepreneur: Aaron Arkin of Evolution Sleep. The Evolution Sleep Program is designed to assist those who suffer from insomnia and other sleep-inhibitors. Modeled using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, the Evolution Sleep Program will assess your sleep habits and utilize behavioral and cognitive sleep-training techniques to improve your sleep quickly and effectively.
First Impressions: Aaron wins me over right away, and I mean right away, when he propose that we meet, not in a coffee shop or at the office, but that we go for a walk with our dogs. “Did you know that it is essential that people get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day in order to sleep well?”
I nod and yawn into my fist. “Ya, I’ve heard that before.”
Originally, Aaron and I met not on business, but because I have crushing insomnia that I thought may have been trying to take me on a fast track to death.
“So, how did you sleep last night?” he asked.
“Normal. From 2am-2:30am, I went around putting tiny slices of duct tape over all the wee glowing lights on phones, computers, even the carbon monoxide detector hoping if the bedroom was actually dark, I would sleep. 2:30am-4:30am I thought about international politics before killing my in-head conversation by not for the life of me remembering what the U.S. version of an MP is called. At 5am, I remembered, Senator. So ya, normal.”
“I think it’s a good thing that you called me.”
And it totally was. Since I’ve began following some of the components of the Evolution Sleep program I can gratefully say my bouts with insomnia have dramatically lessened, and that even when the Sandman opts to be annoyingly elusive, my no-nod nights don’t have me on my knees weeping, and watching the clock tick, and the sun rise, from my place of pathetic desperation on the hardwood next to my bed.
I feel like an infomercial saying this but, I suffered with insomnia for years and if this program was able to help me, it will be able to help you too.
INC Society: First of all, Aaron, a sincere thank you for all you’ve done for my sleep and sanity. I feel like a whole new woman!
Arkin: So glad I could help!
INC Society: I found it so frustrating trying to deal with sleep problems historically. The doctors always asked the same thing, “Are you stressed? You must be stressed. Don’t be stressed before going to bed.” And after one of those talks, I would just lay in bed at 3am, 4am, 5am and just torture myself “Am I stressed? I don’t think I’m stressed. I’m happy.”
Arkin: Right. But then, as we discussed, there is happy-stress as well as unhappy-stress. People often say they are not stressed because, like you, they are loving life, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are running around like crazy; planning events, running businesses, socializing… If you’re attending to things without a lot of down-time, chances are, you’re body will be feeling “stressed” even though you are self-identifying as “happy” and that can certainly affect sleep.
INC Society: And sleep problems are this horrible little trap. Not sleeping makes you morestressed. You’re slower at work, I find my vocabulary goes down by 50% after a no-sleep night, I just feel dopey, bleary. What else besides “stress” can negatively impact sleep quality?
Arkin: Stress is an everyday fact of life, and how we manage it is important in order to eliminate its effect on our sleep. Aside from stress, there are two other factors that can effect our ability to sleep well. The first factor is cognitive, because maladaptive thoughts have a negative effect on our sleep. The second factor is behavioural, because we can easily develop bad habits that are detrimental to our sleep. These thoughts and behaviours lead to and strengthen insomnia
INC Society: And besides “being tired” and perhaps, like me, “slower” are there any other common daytime signs of poor quality sleep?
Arkin: There are some tell-tale signs that you may be having trouble with your sleep. Some obvious ones are: lack of energy and alertness, inability to fall asleep quickly or stay asleep continuously throughout the night, and being easily irritated in the morning. These are some of the common symptoms I hear about from clients.
INC Society: Any quick tips for people who want to sleep better tonight?
Spend the hour before bed relaxing and unwinding – Avoid stress as best as you can before bed, as it has a negative impact on your ability to fall asleep. Try to spend the hour before bed as relaxed and as comfortable as possible, perhaps even dimming the lights. Do your best to deal with stressful emails and other issues before this time, as it will interfere with your brains’ ability to fall asleep. Be as stress-free as you can before your head hits the pillow.
Your bed has one or two purposes. No more. Use your bed for sleep and sex, and that’s all. Avoid watching tv in bed, reading in bed, hanging out and eating snacks in bed. Only associate the bed itself with being sleepy and sleeping. If you are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, get out of bed and leave the bedroom. This is the best way to break the association between the bed and being unable to sleep.
Positive thoughts beat negative ones – it may sound simplistic, but positive thoughts about sleep can conquer negative ones. For example, insomniacs underestimate how long it takes them to fall asleep and their total sleep time. Once they are shown that they in fact are sleeping more than they perceive, this can lead to a greater increase in total sleep time. I’m probably getting more sleep than I think I am is a pretty handy thing to know if you struggle with your sleep. These positive thoughts also create new neural pathways that are reinforced while sleeping.
Be wary of sleep medications – There are many different types of pills that can help us fall asleep or stay asleep. However, these pills don’t always get to the root of what is causing the sleep troubles in the first place. Further, sleep medications can easily become addictive and it can be very difficult to break this type of addiction
Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark – Sleep can be easily interrupted, and taking steps to prevent external stimulation is a great way to sleep soundly. Cooler temperatures are better in the bedroom, as the body cools itself as a way to help the process of falling asleep. Quiet helps keep the brain free from external stimuli so it can conduct its sleep processes more efficiently. Darkness suppresses the visual stimulation that can keep us awake during the night.
Follow the 20-20 rule – If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Try to wind down and choose a relaxing activity in another room altogether. Avoid bright lights, such as watching television or turning on a computer or smartphone. This helps makes you sleepier, and it helps dissociate the “bed” with “sleepiness”. After 20 minutes, try to fall asleep in bed again. Repeat this process as necessary.
INC Society: Thank you so much for sharing these with us. I think it was the 20-20 rule that really helped me turn the corner on my sleep battle.