How important is faith?

Can you learn to sleep better even if you don’t believe you will?

Interestingly, faith isn’t necessarily a requirement for many CBT-based sleep training methods to work.  In other words, you don’t have to be convinced these tools will work to experience a significant benefit.  Faith helps of course, but it isn’t absolutely mandatory.

As one example, by reducing the number of hours in bed to more closely match how much you actually sleep, or even a bit less (sleep timing), you tend to increase your homeostatic sleep drive. An increased sleep drive normally results in better sleep.  It’s a fairly straightforward cause and effect that to some extent works whether or not you believe it will.  Faith is not unimportant, but secondary.  That’s one reason this particular method is so effective.

More profoundly, the cognitive restructuring methods used in CBT sleep improvement also work without necessarily needing faith.  Faith helps immensely of course.  But even if you don’t believe they’ll work these methods still enable you to constructively address the negative thoughts, stress, and anxiety that significantly contribute to insomnia.

Here’s why. One of the keys for cognitive restructuring’s effectiveness is the ability to vividly imagine alternative outcomes. These outcomes are the ones you deliberately choose to imagine, and specifically to help yourself improve. You don’t have to actually believe the image you create is true. By just vividly imaging it, you will experience a benefit.

This brief description of the process is of course greatly simplified, but the underlying concept is valid. To be sure, much care must be taken in forming an effective image and to accurately identify the recurring negative thought patterns that underlie the problem. But surprisingly, even without faith in the image the restructuring method, properly used, still works.

Make no mistake, faith is important.  As is hope and a positive attitude. Life is much easier with these things then without them. But even for nonbelievers, if you are willing to get in there and do the work you can effectively help yourself sleep better.

Explore posts in the same categories: Health, Insomnia, sleep

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