Still blogging about insomnia—now, once a month

It’s time for a couple of announcements: The Savvy Insomniac came out four years ago today and we’re giving away 10 copies of the book to mark the occasion. Read on to find out how to get one yourself!

Announcement No. 2: I’ve been blogging weekly about insomnia for five years and now, starting in October, I’ll be posting once a month. I’m as committed as ever to offering news and perspective on issues related to sleep and insomnia. But other projects are calling and taking more time.

Here are the giveaway details. After that, a summary of popular blog topics you’ll hear more about in the future.

Book Giveaway

First, heartfelt thanks to those of you who follow my blog. It’s one thing to visit a website now and then but quite another to sign up for news from a blogger who posts a 600- to 800-word story every week! Your interest in insomnia and insomnia treatments must be as deep and personal as mine.

For all the blogging I’ve done about sleep and insomnia, though, The Savvy Insomniac is the best and most comprehensive writing I’ve done on the subject. Anyone living in the US who hasn’t got a copy and wants one can use the contact form to let me know. The first 10 people who contact me with a question about sleep or insomnia (something you wonder about but haven’t found much information about) will get a copy of The Savvy Insomniac free of charge.

Don’t forget to include your mailing address. Overseas shipping rates are so exorbitant that I can’t ship books abroad. But inexpensive e-books continue to be available through Amazon and other online booksellers.

Here, now, are the blog topics most popular with Savvy Insomniac readers. Count on hearing more about them in the months ahead.

Insomnia Relief in the Form of a Pill

Sleeping pills don’t get great press these days, but they have great interest for Savvy Insomniac readers. Posts about Belsomra, the newest sleeping pill approved for the treatment of insomnia, consistently get the most views. Belsomra acts as a sedative by blocking transmission of orexin, a neurochemical that promotes arousal. Other orexin-blocking sleeping pills are in the works. I’ll write about them if and when they’re approved by the FDA.

Posts about sedating antidepressants are also popular. Since many sleeping pills have undesirable side effects, persistent insomnia is sometimes treated with low doses of a sedating antidepressant. Doxepin has been approved as Silenor for treatment of sleep maintenance insomnia. The others (trazodone, mirtazapine, amitriptyline) have not been sanctioned by the FDA as effective for insomnia. They do, however, have sedative properties.

Melatonin supplements are also of high interest to readers, especially in timed-release formulations. But melatonin is not a sleeping pill. Its usefulness lies in its ability to shift the timing of sleep. Melatonin is sometimes recommended to night owls whose daytime schedules make it necessary to go to sleep earlier than they would following their natural inclinations. It also helps lessen jet lag.

Insomnia: What’s Your Flavor?

Posts on the different types of insomnia are the next most visited category. Since the underlying causes of insomnia disorder remain unknown, insomnia is usually classified based on the symptoms people report.

Psychophysiologic (or psychophysiological) insomnia is the most common insomnia diagnosis given to those of us who report trouble sleeping at night and daytime impairments. Symptoms are both physiological (bodily tension and warmth, for example) and psychological (anxiety about sleep). Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is now the first-line treatment for psychophysiologic insomnia.

A diagnosis of paradoxical insomnia may be made following a sleep study showing a large discrepancy between how much time a person reports sleeping and how much sleep is recorded on the polysomnogram (the test in the sleep lab). Treatment options vary and there’s no clear consensus on which works best.

Sleep Restriction for Insomnia Relief

Sleep restriction therapy comes in for a close third topic of interest to Savvy Insomniac readers. Offered as part of CBT-I or as a standalone therapy, sleep restriction has been found in research to improve several aspects of sleep.

Its appeal to readers of this blog may have to do with the sheer number of posts I’ve written on the topic (10) and the fact that it worked so well for me. Combined with daily exercise, sleep restriction helped me regularize my sleep and overcome my sleep anxiety. Invaluable gains, to me.

Seasonal Insomnia

Insomnia that varies seasonally is another topic that draws lots of readers. Environmental factors that occur in the spring and summer—too much light and too much heat—can easily interfere with falling and staying asleep.

Insomnia that starts in the fall and continues through the winter may be driven by other environmental factors. Lack of sunlight or other bright light is usually the culprit. Lack of vitamin D may be another factor. Expect to see an update on this topic coming fairly soon.

Don’t see a topic that interests you here? Use the contact form to ask a question about a topic that does interest you, and receive a free copy of The Savvy Insomniac.

And here’s a last request: please like and share blog posts you feel are helpful on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. This will help The Savvy Insomniac blog remain discoverable to other insomnia sufferers looking for a better night’s rest.

Posted by Lois Maharg, The Savvy Insomniac

Lois Maharg has worked with language for many years. She taught ESL, coauthored two textbooks, and then became a reporter, writing about health, education, government, Latino affairs, and food. Her lifelong struggle with insomnia and interest in investigative reporting motivated her to write a book, The Savvy Insomniac: A Personal Journey through Science to Better Sleep. She now freelances as an editor and copy writer at On the Mark Editing.


  1. Hello Lois,
    I so enjoy your blog and have learned so much. I have been meaning to order your book and have not had a chance. I am too tired. haha

    I have been struggling with more symptoms of restless leg and would like to know more about this and if there are alternative things I could do since I have been on Klonopin and Gapentin for 20 years. I have “chills” like feelings in my arms and legs, but I am not sure if this is restless leg. My sleep study showed periodic leg movement a number of years ago. I also have had insomnia since childhood. I have written to you before so I will not repeat. I am now 64 and things seem worse.

    Thank you in advance for your help.



    1. Hi Pam,

      I’m glad you’ve found this blog helpful, and thanks for letting me know that! I’m sorry, though, that your problem with restless leg syndrome seems to be worse. RLS is something I know little about, so this morning I’ve been reading about it in Pubmed.

      As you’re probably aware, it’s caused by a lack of iron in the brain. There’s a failure of iron to cross the blood brain barrier and be transported to critical brain areas. This leads to RLS symptoms: crawling/creeping/tingling/aching sensations in the limbs and the urge to move.

      Apparently RLS is often treated with medication. Gabapentin is one medication approved by the FDA for RLS. A downside to this drug is that it may cause daytime sleepiness and dizziness. Klonopin, although not an approved medication for RLS, is sometimes prescribed for RLS as well. I don’t know the rationale for this—you might ask your doctor and see what he or she says.

      It’s possible that non-pharmacologic RLS remedies might help. Depending on your situation, they might enable you to get by on less medication than you’re taking now. Sleep Review magazine published an excellent article on non-pharmacologic interventions for RLS just last year. You may find some helpful advice here:

      Good luck with getting better sleep and more stamina during the day. Thanks for writing in!



  2. I have attempted SR numerous times but I have always given up after the first unsuccessful night. I begin thinking that the only solution is to take a pill. I can’t go through life with sleepless nights.
    Should I continue with the treatment?



    1. Hello Monika,

      Sleep restriction is a treatment that takes time to work. People usually start seeing results within a couple of weeks (I saw results starting on the 4th night of treatment, but my sleep window was quite narrow), but the full course of therapy continues over 4 to 6 weeks. So unless you’re willing to commit to a period of adjustment as you’re building up sleep drive and regularizing your sleep, sleep restriction probably won’t work.

      That said, if you were willing to get one-on-one coaching from a sleep therapist, who might be able to walk you through the treatment step by step, you might be able to persist through the first difficult week or weeks of therapy long enough to reap the benefits.

      Sleeping pills work quickly, but many have adverse effects if you continue taking them night after night. Because sleep restriction (and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) is drug free, it will serve you better in the long run. I encourage you to set up an appointment with a sleep therapist, discuss your problem, and see what he/she recommends.



  3. I constantly receive Offers of EBB try out for 30 days for free. If someone already tried EBB, Please share your experience with it.



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