Beating Insomnia - The Cognitive Behaviour Therapy solution.
- If you have been in bed and haven't slept for half an hour, then do something!
- The best thing to do is to get up, even if you don't feel like it or feel to exhausted. Get out of your bedroom, move into another room in the house and start doing something else. Relaxing activities are best, reading or surfing the Internet are perfect. Drink a herbal tea (obviously no caffeine), play solitaire, use your active mind.
- Don't go back to bed until you feel significantly more tired, and try again for half an hour.
- Make sure though that you get up at a decent time every day, and make sure it is more or less the same time. Get into the routine of getting up at that time regardless of how you slept the night before.
- Use your bedroom, and especially your bed, for sleeping only. Try to use other rooms in the house during the day and only go to bed when you are tired.
Lots of people who have anxiety, agoraphobia or panic disorder have trouble sleeping. Likewise some people who are depressed also can't seem to get to sleep, despite a constant feeling of lethargy. As is so often the case with anxiety and depression symptoms, insomnia can move from being just a symptom to being a causative factor.
The CBT method of beating insomnia is quite straight forward and is as effective as CBT ever is.
First the cognitive (thought related) part.Examine the thoughts:
"I need to get some sleep, I must get some sleep, I should be asleep, I will feel terrible tomorrow, people say I look ill, I will get the sack because I can't concentrate".You will probably find that these thoughts are an example of either "all or nothing thinking" or "catastrophizing", which are common dysfunctional thought patterns in people with a tendency for anxiety, panic and depression. Not only are they largely false or gross exaggerations, but they are deeply damaging as they perpetuate the insomnia.
See for yourself: Check it out with no obligation and see videos of people who have used it.
Better ThoughtsIdeally, when we are trying to sleep we are not thinking about sleep! But anyone who has had insomnia knows that that is impossible! So the next best thing to do is to counter the negative and dysfunctional thoughts similar to those above. The best thoughts to keep in mind are:
"It doesn't matter if I sleep or not, my body will sleep when it is ready, I can function on very little sleep, just relaxing now will help me feel better tomorrow, even if I get no sleep."The chances are that reading this right now, you don't believe that thinking like that is possible. But it is much better to think like that, to give yourself permission to be awake. Taking the pressure off will help you to relax and help you sleep. This is called paradoxical intention. It WILL NOT work if you keep putting your self under pressure. You can not try this with the attitude "It doesn't matter if I don't sleep but it does really". Really give yourself permission to allow what is happening at that moment to just be that way.