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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

3 Common Mistakes People Make When Working with Insomnia

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Oct 6th 2009

insomniaA few weeks ago I wrote a blog about Insomnia, citing some characteristics of it, a tip of how to keep track of your sleeping patterns, and a link to another blog about using the body scan to help fall asleep or fall back asleep. There are a couple great comments on what has helped others at the end of these blogs worth checking out. Sleep is so fundamental to our mental health, our physical health and our ability to function well at work and home and sometimes when we have sleep troubles we do things that seem like a good solution at the time, but inevitably make the sleep problem worse.

Here are a few mistakes people make when trying to improve their sleep:

  1. Daytime naps - Yes, many people in the world take daytime naps, but if you're having sleep problems and getting consistent poor night's sleep, taking naps may begin to throw off your body becoming tired enough at night to actually fall asleep and the same cycle could continue.

  2. Sleeping in - Here is another one. We get a terrible night's sleep so we decide the best thing to do is just to sleep in longer. This throws off the body's natural sleep-wake cycle and by the time evening comes around, the body is not ready to go to sleep.

  3. Retiring early - This also may seem logical. You got a terrible night's sleep, you feel exhausted, why not get a little extra sleep by going to bed early? Again, what we're trying to establish with an issue such as insomnia is a regular sleep-wake cycle so that the body becomes used to a regular time to go to bed.

These are all habits that usually have the opposite effect of what we want to accomplish at the end of the day...better sleep.

Some might say that losing sleep one night or two nights may lead to a better chance at good sleep the following night. The longer you are asleep, the better chance you have to fall asleep later. Think about it, if you are awake for 20 hours, you have a better chance at falling asleep than if you were awake for 4 hours.

Another thing to just we aware of is how much sleep you need.

There are so many different "sleep experts" that say different things. However, generally speaking, there is no "one size fits all" for everyone's sleep patterns. Different people need different amounts of sleep.

When looking at how much sleep you need, it's important to set aside any preconceived judgments about what is "normal." The question is what fits for you? Most people need about 6-8 hours; some people need 10 and very few need less than 6. So take some time, to really experiment with what your sleep cycle is.

So, keep a sleep record, practice the body scan to help falling asleep (If you need audio guidance with this you can explore this CD or MP3), don't commit the 3 common mistakes, and if at any point you need more support with this, please reach out to a healthcare professional.

As always, please share your thoughts, experiences, and stories below. You interactions provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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