Your thoughts may often interfere with your sleep by protracting you into so-called “cycle of worry” and as a result stop you from falling asleep and resting properly.
CYCLE OF WORRY
THOUGHT: Negative Thought Leads to….
FEELING: Worry: Body and Mind are “ACTIVATED”
BEHAVIOUR: Scanning body, environment, and thoughts
THOUGHT… And the cycle continues.
When Body and Mind are activated senses “zoom-in” and so often detect small, unrelated things as threats.
How to break a Cycle of Worry
Imagine, you wake up at 3 am and you think “I won’t be able to function tomorrow”.
You need to challenge that thought!!!
· What is the evidence that supports this idea?
· What is the evidence against this idea?
· Is there an alternative explanation?
· What is the worst that could happen?
· Could I live through it?
· What is the best that could happen?
· What is the most realistic outcome?
· What would I tell______(a friend) if he she were in the same situation?
· How would someone else interpret the same situation?
What alternative thought could you have?
Awake in bed in the middle of the night
“I won’t be able to function tomorrow”.
“I did not sleep so well one night last week but I could still function. I may not be sleeping, but I am resting”.
By finding and Alternative Thought, Worry and Anxious feelings are reduced and the cycle is weakened or broken so sleep will come more easily.
Other ways to stop a “Racing Mind”
· Allow thoughts to come and go e.g. train passing through a station (pink bunny exercise)
· Concentration on something pleasurable and/or boring e.g. counting sheep
· Think of something that will take your attention
3 BIG FACTORS that make it difficult to judge how much sleep you’ve had:
1. “Sleep Inertia”- 3-20 minutes after waking we’re still “half-asleep”, dazed, “out-of-it”
2. “Sleep Onset” is a bit of mystery time! Even with hi-tech machines, we can’t know exactly when sleep starts.
3. “Worry” – research shows that when we worry – and our mind races – time seems to pass more quickly. So 30 minutes trying to get to sleep may seem like and hour!
Thinking about your sleep problem
Research has found that almost everyone
· Underestimates how much sleep they get
· Overestimates the time it takes them to go to sleep
Your beliefs and attitudes about sleep are important
Some things you can do
1. Widen the Goal Posts e.g. don’t have fixed rules about sleep
2. Recognise that not feeling completely rested some days is normal, EVEN AFTER a good night’s sleep
3. Recognise that there are more things within your control such as:
· Irregular sleep schedule
· Daytime napping
· Spending too much time in bed
· Exaggerate the seriousness as this can lead to more worry, e.g. “I look ten years older after no sleep last night”
· Let your world revolve around sleep
· Cancel activities as that gives you more time to worry about the upcoming night
· Get on with things normal even if you have had a bad night sleep
· Even if you don’t sleep, enjoy rest and relaxation, as these can be helpful
· Accept that sleep problems are not dangerous
Good luck! Stay calm and sleep well…
© King’s College London
Dr. Anastasia Burelomova
Trainee Counseling Psychologist