“Help! I can’t sleep because I overthink!”

Q:  “I have trouble falling asleep because I tend to overthink.  Sometimes my mind just won’t stop it seems.  Any suggestions?”

A:  A racing mind that prevents or interferes with sleep is actually very common.  Often the cause of an overactive mind is dwelling on the negative, and the anticipation of all the negative consequences that may arise.

For insomniacs, negative thoughts are often about the idea of sleep.  Such a negative expectation about sleep often leads to the endless worry that fuels chronic insomnia.

Some psychologists suggest that of the tens of thousands of thoughts the average person has over the course of each day, the majority are negative.  This point can be philosophically argued of course, and one can question why we would have evolved as human beings to have so many negative thoughts.

But suffice it to say it would not be at all unusual for any of us to be thinking negative thoughts in bed, and at times for that to cause insomnia.

In any case, for better sleep we can choose to counteract all these negative thoughts.  To do so successfully, we need some sort of a consistent system, a framework of understanding, that allows us to first recognize and then be able to identify thoughts as negative.  Once identified, then these are the negative thoughts that, in the case of sleep, are hurting you.

Recognizing and identifying negative thoughts is not difficult, but it does takes some self-discipline and willingness to be honest with yourself.  Often these negative thoughts are virtually automatic and unthinking responses, but they are nonetheless there and doing damage at a subconscious level.

This is often the case with insomnia, which may be fueled by negative thoughts about the idea of sleep.  Insomniacs tend to worry and obsess about sleep, but the worry is misplaced.  Sleep isn’t the problem — it’s only the symptom.

The key to overcoming this is simple.  And we hold the key in our hands right now, whether we realize it or not.

By making an effort to identify and then disregard negative thoughts, and in particular negative sleep thoughts, these thoughts begin to lose their power and go away.  When we choose to replace negative sleep thoughts with positive sleep thoughts — thoughts that are in fact more realistic and accurate about sleep, we can begin to tip our inner balance scale in the direction of better sleep.

Deprived of the raw fuel of negative sleep thoughts, insomnia diminishes.  Sleep then naturally improves.  And without drugs.

The process is known as cognitive restructuring, and it is one important part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) specifically for sleep.   CBT is a collection of powerful sleep improvement methods that work.   And once you learn to do this, it is a permanent, drug-free solution for better sleep.  This is exactly what a CBT-based program like the Sleep Training System provides.

Please feel free to contact us with your questions or concerns about sleep.

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

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One Comment on ““Help! I can’t sleep because I overthink!””


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