These days people are worried about jobs, health care, the environment, the possibility of worldwide war. Uncertainty about the future, and fear of negative outcomes, may rob even reliable sleepers of sleep from time to time.
But for many insomnia sufferers, worry and anxiety about sleep itself—“It’s two o’clock and I haven’t slept a wink!”; “If I don’t get to sleep now I’ll get sick!”—is an equally powerful enemy of sleep.
Here’s more about worry and insomnia and how to keep them from spoiling the night.
Here’s a complaint I often hear from insomniacs going through sleep restriction therapy: it’s hard to stay awake until bedtime. A related frustration comes with suddenly having extra time on your hands.
“I don’t know what to do with myself till 2:30 in the morning!” an insomnia sufferer groused to me.
Here are variations on 11 activities aimed at keeping you awake until the clock says it’s time to head to bed.
Observing the rules of good sleep hygiene may not work as a standalone treatment for insomnia. But now that I’ve learned to manage my insomnia, I follow most of the rules because they help me maintain sounder, more regular sleep.
Some are especially helpful in preventing backsliding. They may help you, too.
Anxiety about sleep is a problem for some insomnia sufferers. Fear of sleeplessness is the main thing keeping them awake at night.
Here’s how sleep anxiety develops and how to tone it down.
“I have nights when I can’t sleep at all and other nights when I sleep a lot,” Philippa wrote last week. “If I don’t fall asleep straight away I find I often don’t sleep the whole night! Do you think sleep restriction would work for me?”
My answer to Philippa’s question is an unqualified “yes.” But first I want to look at sleep that’s inconsistent and unpredictable and how anxious it can make you feel.
People sometimes ask whether chronic insomnia is mainly a physiological or a psychological problem. Often it’s both.
Certain beliefs about sleep can interfere with getting a good night’s rest. A reality check can help you sort out truth from myth, which in turn may help you sleep.
If you have chronic insomnia, you may have developed anxiety about sleep. I had lots of sleep-related anxiety until I went through sleep restriction. Once my sleep stabilized, the anxiety disappeared.
Studies have shown that cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is modestly effective at controlling anxiety. It’s FDA approved and widely used in the armed forces for anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, and depression.