Sleep’s Sweet Synchronicity

To a sleep-deprived insomniac, it sure sounds counterintuitive:  do not allow yourself to sleep in one day, or you pay the price the following night.

If you’ve tossed and turned for hour after frustrating hour, angry at yourself for being unable to sleep, when you do finally get some blessed relief in the wee hours of the morning it’s understandable that yes, you just want to hold on to it for as long as you can.

But that likely is not helping. To the contrary, sleeping in is probably worsening and perpetuating insomnia.

Why is this?  Why does the seemingly benign act of allowing yourself to sleep in one day enormously increase the risk that you’ll have yet another rough night ahead?

It all has to do with sleep’s sweet synchronicity.

Many insomniacs are not aware of the two most important mind-body systems that control sleep:  circadian rhythm, which produces an alerting signal, and homeostatic sleep drive.  These two physiologic processes work in tandem.  When synchronized and working well together, sleep becomes much easier naturally, and at times, practically irresistible.

To help better understand how sleeping in disrupts the synchronicity between these two internal processes, take a look at a simple graphic produced by the Harvard School of Medicine:  http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/interactive/sleep-forces

Fortunately, there is a very simple way to resynchronize your biological clock and circadian alerting signal:  simply get up at the same time every day.  Also have a consistent bedtime, and allow yourself only the minimum time needed for sleep.  For most people, this is somewhere between 7 and 9 hours per night.

To be sure, there are many other factors that often contribute to primary insomnia, which typically has no diagnosable medical issue associated with it.  Key among these nonmedical root causes are the negative and often distorted thoughts and beliefs many insomniacs hold about the idea of sleep.

The best, most comprehensive solution to insomnia that addresses all these issues is contained in CBT — cognitive behavioral therapy — specifically designed for insomnia.  A good CBT-based sleep training program is a drug-free solution that enables you to permanently address the true root causes for most primary insomnia.

Not allowing yourself to sleep in is tough for an insomniac, no question.  But when you begin to address the true root causes, the payoff is huge.  This is one step along the way to becoming a normal sleeper again, and reaping all the healthy rewards that go along with better sleep.

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20 Comments on “Sleep’s Sweet Synchronicity”


  1. […] profound effect of both helping to regulate your circadian rhythm and also synchronizing it to your homeostatic sleep drive.  Consistency for many people is probably one of the single most important behaviors to employ for […]


  2. […] a consistent wake time.  This has the profound effect of both regulating your circadian rhythm and synchronizing it to your homeostatic sleep drive.  Circadian rhythm and sleep drive are two of the most […]


  3. […] can regulate your circadian rhythm and synchronize it to your sleep drive by trying to get up in the morning at the same time every day.  That’s important.  Try for […]


  4. […] is a consistent sleep-wake schedule, especially a consistent wake time, which enables you to manage your circadian rhythm and homeostatic sleep drive, two key internal processes that control sleep.  Doing most of these sorts of these things are […]


  5. […] reduction in sleep drive each night is the circadian rhythm — or to put it more precisely the circadian alerting signal — which reaches a low ebb in the early morning hours and normally enables us to fall back […]


  6. […] rhythm.  These are the two internal processes that largely control sleep.  When they are synchronized and working well together, sleep can become practically […]


  7. […] will enable you to synchronize your circadian rhythm to your homeostatic sleep drive.  When both those internal systems are in synch and working well, sleep when you want it can […]


  8. […] wake time, because this is your fixed point each day to both reset your circadian rhythm and synchronize it to your homeostatic sleep […]


  9. […] be able to adjust and restore better sleep as your homeostatic sleep drive and circadian rhythm synchronize.   These two internal processes largely control […]


  10. […] the two systems — your circadian rhythm and sleep drive — in alignment and synchronized together is a very powerful and completely natural way to help strengthen your sleep system any […]


  11. […] a consistent sleep schedule.  Especially important is a consistent wake time, which has the profound effect of both regulating your circadian rhythm and synchronizing it with your homeostatic sleep drive. […]


  12. […] important is the profound benefit of regulating your circadian rhythm, and synchronizing that to your homeostatic sleep drive.  Circadian rhythm and sleep drive are the two most important […]


  13. […] sends a signal reinforcing the lull in the circadian alerting system.  When the two systems are synchronized and working well together, sleep when you want it can become practically […]


  14. […] best way way to both strengthen your circadian rhythm and synchronize it to your sleep drive is to establish a consistent sleep-wake schedule that provides no more time […]


  15. […] sleep drive, which in concert with your circadian rhythm, are the two most important internal processes controlling […]


  16. […] by our circadian rhythms.  Consistency in your sleep timing helps these two internal systems synchronize and work […]


  17. […] controlling sleep are circadian rhythm and homeostatic sleep drive. The two components, when synchronized and working well together, can make sleep when you want practically […]


  18. […] Second, set your bed time about 8 or 8.5 hours earlier than your wake time.  This is slightly less than what you’re used to, so it will have the effect of revving up your homeostatic sleep drive. […]


  19. […] wake time 7 days a week.  That does two things — regulates your circadian rhythm and synchronizes it to your homeostatic sleep drive. Those are the two most important internal components […]


  20. […] To enhance this process there’s many additional supportive actions and behaviors you can use.  Of particular importance is consistency in your circadian rhythm. […]


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