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Michael A. Tompkins, Ph.D., ABPP, co-director of the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy (sfbacct.com), delivers an informative overview of mental health issues and contributing factors that play a significant role in how we sleep and the quality of our sleep.

Dr. Tompkins is an experienced licensed psychologist, board certified in behavioral and cognitive psychology. He is an accomplished author and outspoken advocate for mental health. Dr. Tompkins has held and currently holds, significant leadership roles with various, important mental health centers and educational institutions. He is co-director of the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy, assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as Diplomate and Founding Fellow of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. Additionally, Dr. Tompkins works as a trainer and consultant for the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior.

Dr. Tompkins discusses his nearly 30-year career in mental health, treating primarily anxiety and mood disorders. He states that most people with these kinds of disorders do experience difficulty with sleep. He details CBTI (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) and his work with teens who have anxiety and sleep disorders. Insomnia is defined as a difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep, which limits the amount of restorative sleep that we all need. He explains how sleep disrupters, such as stress or travel, impact the sleep cycle. Further, he states that those who struggle to get quality sleep often worry about it, which increases anxiety and exacerbates the problem, or they try to adjust their sleep schedule, which often does not work because regularity of a sleep schedule is critical for the body to get into a working pattern such that restorative sleep can flourish.

Dr. Tompkins’ book, The Insomnia Workbook for Teens, lays out a step-by-step process for achieving better sleep, proven-effective strategies to help the sleep deprived get to sleep and stay asleep. The book explains the many and varied reasons we experience insomnia and offers advice on how to target and deal with sleep disrupters such as caffeine and sugar. Teens especially need quality sleep as their lifestyles today are fast and furious, and it is difficult to rise to the challenges of each day when we’re sleep deprived and left feeling exhausted, grouchy, and unprepared for daily tasks. Dr. Tompkins coauthored the book with his esteemed colleague, Dr. Monique Thompson, also a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Thompson holds a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from California School of Professional Psychology. She is a certified cognitive therapist and also a Diplomate of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy. She treats a myriad of mental health issues such as depression, various anxiety disorders (social anxiety, phobias, and panic), and sleep disorders, as well as attention problems, life transitions, and more.

Dr. Tompkins provides an overview of one of their primary goals: focusing on sleep efficiency, which is entirely different than simply looking at quality or quantity of sleep. He discusses various stimulus control strategies and other methods that people can utilize to help get them back on track with their sleep. He states that nearly 80% of the individuals they help with primary insomnia can often benefit from sleep restriction, essentially getting them to stop trying to catch up on sleep, but to focus on having consistent go to bed, and get out of bedtimes. Additionally, he discusses other effective techniques such as breathing exercises, mindful meditation, muscle relaxation, and more. Dr. Tompkins talks about wind-down routines and relaxation in general and the importance of getting one’s body and mind to a state in which all systems are ready to fall asleep willingly.

The sleep specialist and mental health educator discuss the particular issues that teens face, as they are literally going through an organic change in brain development that causes them to want to begin sleep later in the evening and then sleep in later come morning. And with elevated stress in teens’ lives and the use of social media, all can keep teen minds activated, which leads to sleep disturbances or a general difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep. He details the types of skills that they teach in CBTI to help teens with their various sleep issues.

Dr. Tompkins discusses melatonin and other supplements, but he stresses that chronic insomnia sufferers may not benefit from melatonin, etc. Ultimately, insomnia sufferers must find a way to focus on the wind-down time and a consistent schedule of sleep. Additionally, he talks about genetic inheritances that may contribute to sleep problems, such as chronotype (when we feel like sleeping naturally) and mental arousability, which many insomniacs tend to be prone to.

Dr. Tompkins is the author of multiple scholarly articles, chapters on cognitive behavior therapy, and books covering related subjects. He treats adults, adolescents, and children with anxiety disorders, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder, health anxiety, stress, insomnia, repetitive behaviors, elimination disorders, Tourette’s and tic disorders.

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