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Trying To Stay Awake Might Improve Sleeplessness

March 15, 2019

Insomnia could be treated by active wakefulness

According to recent recommendations by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, based on a study pertaining to behavioural interventions for insomnia, sleeplessness may be reduced by trying to remain awake at night. The theory is based on the notion of paradoxical intention and could help individuals who suffer from insomnia to lessen the anxiety associated with an inability to fall asleep at night, which tends to exacerbate the primary issues at the core of the sleeping disorder.

What Is Paradoxical Intention?

In psychotherapy, the practice of paradoxical intention refers to deliberately practicing a habit or thought in order to identify its origin and/or eradicate it.

How Does It Pertain to Insomnia?

When you have insomnia, or even just battle to fall and remain asleep at night, it can cause quite a bit of anxiety around bedtime. The performance anxiety associated with the failure of doing something that comes so naturally to most people can inhibit the onset of sleep even further. When you think about it, this notion makes complete sense. We spend the whole day motivating ourselves to complete certain tasks - get up, get dressed, make our way to work, tick off a to-do list throughout the day and then get back home to make dinner and prepare for rest. When you have trouble falling asleep, even that can seem like a task, so essentially you can never switch off. This type of anxiety is a recipe for sleeplessness. Active wakefulness might very well prove to be a useful psychological tool in this instance.

How Do I Practice Active Wakefulness?

Instead of trying to fall asleep at night, try to remain awake without any distractions or stimulants. I.e. prepare for bed like you normally would - put on your pyjamas, brush your teeth, close your curtains, switch your mobile to silent and switch off the light and get in bed - and then challenge yourself to remain awake. Keep your eyes open and let go of any effort to fall asleep. Feeling wide awake? Celebrate the fact that it will be very easy to stay awake. Getting drowsy? Try to remain awake for a little longer.

This approach may seem counterintuitive, but it might very well be the thing that turns your sleep anxiety on its head and makes a proper night’s rest a reality without the need for any sleeping aids. Why not give it a try?

Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source of information: Psychology Today.

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