In over 30 years of conducting CBT, I’ve most often heard these 3 myths from people struggling with insomnia. Many don’t realize that these myths can actually keep people STUCK in insomnia. The good news is that when people see that they are truly just myths, they start to get better – even after many many years of insomnia!
Myth: “If I’m awake, that’s bad.” So many people feel frustrated or anxious to be awake in the middle of the night. The problem is not being awake … the more we fret about being up, the more we stay awake.
New Belief: Expect awakenings – “It’s normal to be awake several times a night.” As you can see in the diagram that shows ‘normal’ sleep … there are typically MULTIPLE awakenings throughout the night. Most of the time, we don’t recall them the next day.
#2 Deep Sleep
Myth: “Deep Sleep is Hard to Get.” Many fear that they’re not getting enough deep sleep. They feel as though they’re drifting in and out of sleep too much.
New Belief: “Most deep sleep occurs early – Not in the last half.” Look at the red circles in the diagram, to realize that even if it FEELS like you’re hovering in and out of sleep … it’s much more likely that your brain is grabbing the opportunity to get the deep sleep earlier in the night. You will, in fact, be in ‘lighter’ sleep during the last half of the night.
#3 Sleep Hygiene
Myth: “I try to follow the rules … and still can’t sleep.” Even physicians suggest that if patients simply follow the rules of good ‘sleep hygiene’ (e.g., Put away screens, Have a cool dark room, etc.), insomnia will go away.
New Belief: “Sleep hygiene PREVENTS insomnia; CBT-I works to TREAT it!” The American College of Physicians recommends a brief (4 to 7 sessions) behavioral treatment called CBT-I to treat insomnia – even before trying medication. Since 1993, Morin has shown that we know exactly what it takes to eliminate insomnia (even after many years of suffering) using behavioral treatment. See more about CBT-I.