It’s one of great ironies of working with people with trouble sleeping that often the path to better sleep heads first in an unexpected direction. Most of the people we see with complaints of fatigue are having problems because they are sleeping too long, and with poor quality. In fact, most people can get by with just seven to seven and a half hours of sleep a night if that sleep is good quality sleep. One of the most common reasons for poor quality sleep is a disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm (the internal clocks that regulate the process of waking up and going to sleep every day). Most often that is because people aren’t following a regular pattern of getting up and getting light, social contact and physical activity in the morning. This is such a common problem that one of the most effective mood stabilizing psychotherapies focuses mostly on this problem (interpersonal social rhythm therapy – IPSRT).
Another scenario where early awaking can be helpful is for people who are developing what is called “sleep phobia.” This is really insomnia phobia. It refers to spending time in bed trying to get to sleep and becoming increasingly frustrated and upset about not being successful. As a result, your brain begins to unconsciously associate being in bed with being awake and on edge. Again, the solution for this problem often begins by limiting sleep so that you are not spending time in bed awake. Ensuring that when you go to bed, you’re tired enough that you fall asleep quickly.
- The Insomnia Workbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting the Sleep You Need by Stephanie Silberman
- Overcoming Insomnia: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approach Workbook (Treatments That Work) by Jack D. Edinger and Colleen E. Carney
- The Effortless Sleep Method: The Incredible New Cure for Insomnia and Chronic Sleep Problems by Sasha Stephens
- Treating Bipolar Disorder: A Clinician’s Guide to Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy by Ellen Frank