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I have been working on improving my own sleep for five years and in the process have written Stories for Getting Back to Sleep and done readings in an effort to help others with sleep deprivation. Being awake and anxious in the middle of the night is not only debilitating, it can become a cycle. Even given the attention to sleep over the last five years, research on the importance of natural and abundant sleep continues to make headlines.

Jane E. Brody, for example, just wrote an essay in the New York Times (June 17, 2019) discussing sleep without medication; it has, at last count, over 600 comments. Research has found natural sleep is essential for a functioning immune system, sociability, and even more subtle cognitive processing than previously thought. Yet the percentage of Americans getting enough sleep continues to decline, and many are reaching for medications, which have serious side effects. The first line of treatment for sleep problems is cognitive behavior therapy, but in a recent article in Behavioral Sleep Medicine, researchers argue that it is "severely underutilized" and poorly taught.

As an educational psychologist, I have thought a lot about how people learn, and it doesn't usually happen through what is called "messaging": "Don't do this, it's bad for your health!" Rather I have found that people's natural curiosity can be awakened, and they can become engaged with the issue of, in this case, sleep by thinking creatively with others about how to increase their own natural sleep. Cognitive behavior therapy can be creative and imaginative; it can awaken us to our potential to find strategies that work for us.

We can learn so much from each other at interactive workshops that direct us toward health and wellbeing. In addition to teaching the strategy in my book, I am now teaching about several different forms of cognitive behavior therapy, all of which can engage audiences in joyfully rethinking how they themselves (with their families and support groups) can gain they sleep that they need to be functioning at their best.

About the Author

Diane Gillespie is a regular presenter at East West Bookshop and will be presenting on this topic on Thursday, June 27, 2019 at 7pm. Also you can find her book, Stories For Getting Back To Sleep at East West Bookshop!

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