Unrealistic Expectations About Sleep and Insomnia

Cognitive therapy may help.

Having unrealistic expectations about sleep and insomnia can be a major deterrent to getting the rest you need.

Avoid Making Sleeping Problems Worse

Just like anything in life, having unrealistic expectations about sleep and insomnia can make dealing with sleep problems even more difficult. Whenever you place an expectation on anything, it might cause you to experience rigid "all or nothing" thinking that things have to be a certain way or you are not normal. In sleep situations, unrealistic expectations can contribute to increased depression and anxiety, which makes sleeping even harder. In sleeping situations, as in life, a number of variables can make a difference.

Unrealistic Expectations about Sleep and Insomnia

A few things might cause you to experience unrealistic expectations concerning sleep. These things are like the annoyances that cause you to think you're doing it wrong, when in many cases, your body knows what is right and you just have to solve the puzzle of what it needs.

Amount of Sleep

Not everyone needs eight hours of sleep. Many people can get by and even thrive on much less. There is a fine line between not enough sleep and just enough, but you'll know if you're getting the proper amount by how you feel when you're awake. Do you constantly feel sleepy? Can you concentrate and function? Are you more tired some parts of the day than during others? Are you dealing with a major sleep disorder or something minor?

If five to seven hours are all you can ever get, consider that you might have your magic number. Everyone deals with sleepiness during the day from time to time, but if your body just won't go past a certain number of hours, you might need to adjust your expectations about what is a normal amount of sleep for you.

Not One Cure-All

When you're dealing with insomnia, you'll probably find that a combination of things will help you sleep better. You might need to try a few different techniques such as muscle relaxing, medications, herbs, and professional help, like a sleep clinic. You might also need a combination of all those things at some point.

Hurry Up and Relax

If your days are filled with constant activity that spills into your nights and you never get a chance to take a breath until you're tucked in bed, it's going to be harder to fall asleep. If your mind is too active and can't slow down, you might need to do more than just hitting the sack. Overtime, you body might be constantly trying to keep you awake because it thinks your mind must stay active. Remember, if you don't make time to relax, your body won't start to get the message that it's okay.

Things that can help with relaxation include:

  • Keeping a regular bedtime
  • Drinking tea or warm milk
  • Listening to soft or soothing music
  • Taking a bath or sitting in a hot tube before bed
  • Incorporating relaxing habits into your routine, such as deep breathing
  • Starting a meditation practice at the end of the day
  • Writing down your worries in a sleep diary
  • Avoiding big meals close to bedtime

Sleeping Pill Dependency

If you are expecting that taking sleeping pills for the rest of your life is the answer, this might cause more harm than good. While sleeping pills can help sometimes, they are not a cure-all and not something you want more than a quick fix. Instead of committing to take pills every night, try doing relaxation or other bedtime activities. Many medications have undesirable side effects and even over-the-counter sleeping pills can interfere with prescriptions you may be taking. It is important to talk to your doctor before taking any sleep aids, including herbal or "all natural" remedies.

Be Open

Try to identify why you're having unrealistic expectations about sleep and insomnia and see what you can change. Know that it might take some time to figure out what works for you, but be willing to help yourself by trying different techniques and being open. With perseverance, hard work, and possibly professional help, you'll be able to sleep and give your body the rest it needs without worry.

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Unrealistic Expectations About Sleep and Insomnia