It’s typical for sensitive sleepers stay awake late before falling asleep and/or wakes up in the middle of sleeping (or just too early in the morning) and find it hard to fall back asleep. We often find it hard even to nap in the daytime as well which stems from being ‘tired but wired’, feeling constant over-activity and tense. Chronic insomniacs therefore can seldom (or never) replace bad night by taking a refreshing and relaxing nap (or sleeping late in the weekends) as falling asleep (or staying asleep) is complicated regardless of the moment.
Irregularity becomes a problem as sleep delays and deficits can mount to several hours during one week: sometimes we fall asleep fine and sometimes we stay wake half the night or most nights (occasionally ALL night). This kind of staying up creates a feeling that we can’t any longer control our own sleep. Bad experiences and negative connotations related to bed and sleep eventually get bigger and bigger. This vicious circle sustains fears towards sleep and insecurity towards own capability to fall asleep.
Sensitive sleepers’ minds don’t rest
Sensitive sleepers’ minds don’t rest in the same way as with good sleepers. Sensitive sleepers often tell that their minds have been full of stuff throughout the night: things to do, worries, fears, noise. It could well be that we don’t feel like sleeping (at all) even though we might have been dozing (lightly). It’s also common that sleep and awakening rotate too often making the feeling of no-sleep more realistic.
Insomniacs and very poor sleepers can easily feel like the-end-of-the-world- hangover after a bad night sleep (clinical tests have validated that this is right correlation, after a sleepless day + night the following state equals considerable alcohol intake). Sensitive sleepers tend to create mechanisms to avoid this kind of catastrophe to happen again (going to bed too early, putting more focus onto sleep, fearing the moment of going to bed, over-trying to fall asleep). Yet these ‘bad’ habits sustain insomnia and are not helpful at all – just the contrary! Ironically, aiming to live as normally as possible is the best exit from insomnia.
If we use most of our days fearing the sleep and the night-time, it will sure be difficult. The most distinctive difference between good and poor sleepers is that good sleepers don’t worry about sleep. Even if they get random bad nights (nobody can totally avoid them) their trust in their own sleep capability is intact. Poor sleepers, on the contrary, tend to create unhealthy thinking patterns such as ‘whatever I do, I won’t sleep’ /’Tomorrow is ruined’/’If I don’t get enough sleep, I won’t cope tomorrow’s busy agenda’ which certainly keeps the sleep away. Letting fears to dominate, will keep the body system in combat state. Who can sleep in the middle of a battlefield?!
The truth however is that we can cope rather well even with very little sleep which we tend to forget during those desperate night hours. Of course we are not in our sharpest state of mind but we can get through the day no-matter-what. It’s also good to remember that sleep in the night is only one way to rest and gain energy. We can use other methods when nights go wrong, for example mediation, breathing exercise, take a walk, talk with good friends, etc.
Broken sleep leads to insomnia
Studies tell that falling asleep problems don’t increase chronic insomnia. This matches with the view that problems with falling asleep normally reflect stress. It’s hard to fall asleep when we are stressed and/or anxious. Getting through stressful periods removes temporary insomnia.
Broken sleep instead is often not linked to stress or anxiety. Studies reveal that broken sleep at night on a continuous basis increases chronic insomnia with 226%. We also sleep less well as we age; it’s a natural part of aging and tends to impact women stronger than men.
Hyperactivity is an essential sustaining factor especially when it leads to a vicious self-feeding circle. Putting focus on resting the body and mind in the daytime is a vital role in the healing process.