Insomniac’s Resolution: Permanently Debunk “I can’t sleep”


The start of a new year is a perfect time for insomniacs (and anyone experiencing sleep difficulties) to make a clean start.  And one of the best ways to do this is to make a clean break from your old ideas about sleep that haven’t been working out too well, and replace them with better, more accurate ideas that enable better, more refreshing sleep.

If you are having trouble sleeping, there’s a very good chance one of your biggest myths to debunk is this:

“I can’t sleep.”

It would not be at all surprising if that is one of your chief complaints.  We hear this constantly, and it’s quite understandable.  After all, what torture it is to lie sleeplessly in bed, dead tired, night after night, tossing and turning for hour after frustrating hour.  “I can’t sleep” seems to sum it up perfectly.

Except it’s wrong.  Completely, spectacularly wrong.  “I can’t sleep” is actually only an illusion with no basis in reality.

The reality is you can sleep — unless you have reason to believe you are unlike every other mammal that has ever lived, or that you for some reason are unlike every human being to ever walk the face of the earth for all time.  You sleep.

You do in fact sleep.  You must.  Your mind and body require it.  Sleep is one of life’s most basic necessities, like air and water.  You need it to survive, and rest assured one way or another you will get it.

The experience of those with severe untreated obstructive sleep apnea demonstrates this well.  Those with untreated OSA can’t sleep for more than a few minutes at a time before waking themselves up, often gasping for air.  They may compensate by getting dozens if not hundreds of microsleeps throughout the night and often throughout the day — a potentially very dangerous situation for anyone with this condition who drives or operates machinery.  Microsleeps are of course a poor substitute for normal sleep, but it demonstrates how one way or another you will not be denied sleep, no matter what you do or don’t do.

So yes, even for the most extreme insomniacs sleep is unavoidable, even irresistible, at some point.  The key to making it better is to manage the inevitable sleep process for the best results.  And one key component of this sleep management process is to rid yourself of dysfunctional, inaccurate, and unrealistic thoughts — like “I can’t sleep” — that only work to feed and worsen the problem.

There are many variations of “I can’t sleep”, including “I absolutely must have 8 solid hours of shuteye in order to function well the next day”, or “I must have a sleeping pill (alcohol, melatonin or other substance) in order to sleep.  Nonsense.

For an insomniac, the lack of sleep is only the symptom, not the underlying cause of insomnia.  To think lack of sleep causes insomnia is like thinking a runny nose causes a cold.

Getting to the real root of the problem goes a long way to making it better, but it requires understanding insomnia’s true basis, which often is some combination of bad sleep habits and negative thoughts about sleep.

For many insomniacs, part of the lasting solution is learning to disregard distorted and inaccurate thoughts like “I can’t sleep”.

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

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One Comment on “Insomniac’s Resolution: Permanently Debunk “I can’t sleep””

  1. […] News and Commentary about the Sleep Training System « Insomniac’s Resolution: Permanently Debunk “I can’t sleep” […]

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