NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA.com) — For scores of Americans, easing comfortably into sleep at night is a frustrating, exhausting dilemma. At times, falling asleep on demand is a certain impossibility.
One local doctor claims he is helping these sleepless individuals, through a sleep school.
Dr. Jay Puangco is the director of the Sleep Disorders Program in Newport Beach, and he refuses to accept that certain people simply cannot sleep well when they need it most.
"I think everybody can learn the skill," Dr. Puangco said.
Program graduates such as Jenecca Prevette had spent years trying to medicate themselves to sleep, but were disappointed with the results. Today, Prevette says re-learning how to sleep, through the six-week, $100 program, has made all the difference.
"I was on sleep aids for thirteen years," Prevette said. "I didn't think I could get off them."
Dr. Puangco says turning to medication for sleep conditions can create more problems than they resolve.
"You get this psychological dependency that you need this crutch to help you sleep," Puangco said.
For example, one of the program's classes, which meet once per week throughout the six weeks, helps students reduce, and eventually eliminate, their dependency on pills. This is achieved by identifying what is preventing you from sleeping.
The program also preaches such simple practices as making your bedroom sleep-friendly.
"First of all, you'll notice there's no clocks," sleep coach Alana Sherrill described. "You want to make sure you're not focusing on 'If I fall asleep right now, I might get three more hours of sleep, four more hours of sleep', because that's doing math, and math is not good for falling asleep."
Sherrill runs many of the classes, and says that when it comes to sleep, heat and light are the enemy.
Another such enemy is a racing mind, which the program counters with meditation and breathing.
Additionally, a sleep diary helps students by allowing them to chart and keep track of their progress.
Graduates of the program say that, despite some early skepticism, they were surprised in the end to experience just how effective the simple steps could be.
"I started doing just what Alana said, almost not believing," Prevette said. "And it worked!"
Another tip, Dr. Puangco notes, is to remember that preparation for sleep actually begins during the daytime, including healthy eating and exercising.
The next program begins in January, and is accepting new students over the Insomnia Program website. To learn more, or to sign up for the course, visit the site here.
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