Is insomnia all in my head?

Q:  Insomnia has really taken a toll on me over the past few months.  Seems all I do is obsess about sleep all the time.  I am no longer the happy and positive person I once was.  Is insomnia really just all in my head?  Am I making this worse by worrying about sleep all the time?

A:  See a doctor first to answer your question about whether or not it’s all in your head.

Your doctor will be able to help you determine if there are any identifiable medical or psychiatric issues underlying your insomnia.  If that’s the case, you have what’s known as secondary insomnia.  Because insomnia is not a disease but rather a symptom of something else going on, by identifying and treating the true root causes you can expect to start sleeping better.

But don’t be surprised if there are no identifiable medical problems.   Most insomnia is actually caused by a variety of nonmedical issues that disrupt sleep.

If you have no underlying medical issues affecting sleep, you likely have some form of primary insomnia, which is by far the most common type.  But even then it’s probably not “all” in your head.

At least some insomnia is typically caused by bad sleep habits that are often easily controllable.  As an example, an inconsistent sleep-wake schedule will undermine your ability to sleep well.  By setting and keeping a consistent sleep schedule, you can fix that problem.  Consuming caffeine in any form (colas and chocolate are loaded with it) too late in the day is another bad sleep habit that can and will cause insomnia.  So making some simple lifestyle adjustments can often go a long way to improve sleep.

One of the most common forms of primary insomnia is known as psychophysiologic insomnia, which is typically caused by some nonmedical combination of bad sleep habits and excessive worry about the idea of sleep.  Literally millions of people have this, and yes, worrying about sleep all the time feeds it.

The good news is primary insomnia is very treatable.  The gold standard of care is known as CBTI — cognitive behavioral therapy specifically designed for insomnia.  CBTI is a combination of a common sense methods that enable you to effectively address both bad sleep habits and the worry about sleep that typically underlie primary insomnia.

Strong clinical evidence proves CBTI works.  Using these methods, you learn specific skills to help counter the negative thoughts that largely perpetuate insomnia, and you also learn good positive lifestyle habits that support better sleeping.

Combined, these methods help most people who try them.  The methods, once learned, become permanent life skills that support better sleep, and best of all, are completely drug free.

The methods need to be used of course to be effective.  But eventually with practice they will help you deal with the ongoing issues of stress management and control of anxiety that we all face every day, which can be a potent fuel for insomnia.

So by addressing the true underlying causes for your insomnia, be confident you can sleep better permanently — and recover the happy positive person you once were.

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

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