Cognitive Training Program
One of the most effective ways for addressing problems with falling asleep and staying asleep is simply by thinking differently about your sleep. Below are some common maladaptive thoughts that can form when you have issues falling asleep and staying asleep. If you have the thought, click on it, which will reveal different ways of thinking about the thought that may be beneficial.
Click on the THOUGHT below if you have it. Then click on the ALTERNATIVE solution.
There is absolutely no evidence to support this claim and there is actually evidence against it, when you consider the billions of dollars the pharmaceutical industry has spent trying to find this evidence. If there was an imbalance to blame, they would probably have found it by now and you would be hearing about it on TV. Exclusive attribution of sleep problems to external causes is self-defeating because you may indeed have little control over them. Because you have some control in changing variables that impact your neurochemistry based on your habits (i.e. light exposure in the morning), you can therefore improve your sleep patterns by modifying your behaviors, thoughts, and feelings around sleep.
Do you always experience daytime impairments after a poor night’s sleep? Do any of these things ever happen to others who do not have sleep difficulties, or happen to you when you don’t have sleep difficulties?
Excessive worrying about sleep may be more detrimental to health than sleep loss itself. What is the worst thing that could happen if you never got to sleep tonight? It might not be as catastrophic to go without sleep periodically as you think.
Sleep needs vary widely among individuals, and there is no “Gold Standard” that everyone should aim for. Just as we all have different shoe sizes, we all need different amounts of sleep. You wouldn’t expect someone 5 feet tall to have a size 9 shoe would you? Nor would you try to force someone 7 feet tall to wear a size 9 shoe. Avoid placing undue pressure on yourself to achieve such a standard, as it may increase your anxiety and perpetuate the problem.
The harder you try to control sleep, the less likely you will fall asleep; it is much easier to force wakefulness than to sleep at will. It is like trying to force yourself to sweat or digest faster. We have limited control over these body functions.
Nighttime sleep is not independent of daytime activities, thoughts and feelings; therefore, you must carefully examine these relationships in order to make your sleep more predictable and develop more self-control.
Since sleep is supposed to occupy only a third of your life, aren’t you giving it more importance than it deserves?
Sleeping too late in the morning or taking daytime naps is likely to delay sleep onset the next night.
In truth, exactly the opposite is true. Most studies show that people who take sleep medications are MORE likely to have difficulty functioning the next day than those who don’t, because of residual side-effects of the medication (e.g., groggy). That being said periodic use can be appropriate and provide some comfort that there is a solution on tough nights. Be sure to consult your doctor for any medication use decisions.
As long as you don’t sleep in or nap the day after a bad nights sleep, your sleep the next and subsequent nights should be better not worse. However, if you start to worry and anticipate a bad night or week, this can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy. How has your sleep been the last few weeks when you have been keeping a regular schedule regardless of how you slept at night?
Medication may be a good solution for short-term sleep problems, but it is not a good solution for the long-term due to the risk of dependency.