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Hardly Sleeping

You may remember me sharing a while back that my sleep was disrupted after the Santa Rosa fires, just as it was for many people in our county. But insomnia strikes us not only in times of crisis and transition. 40% of adults report it can happen anytime in any given year.  As a fragile sleeper, I have found cognitive behavioral therapy tools very effective and I teach them to my clients on a regular basis. Here are a few of them to help you when you feel like you’re hardly sleeping.

  • If you are used to getting 7.5 hours like me, laying awake for a couple hours can easily spark panic about the next day’s obligations. How will I get things done if I’m exhausted?! But research tells us that we don’t need to get optimal sleep every night to function. Our core sleep requirement averages 5.5 hours. If you are struggling with insomnia, a good goal is to get core sleep.
  • When we fall behind on sleep it is natural to try to make up for it the next day. We go to bed earlier, or allow ourselves to sleep in. This pushes our body clock back and forth between virtual time zones, creating the equivalent of jet lag. Keep the same bedtime and wake up time, regardless of how well you slept the night before.
  • With five different sleep cycles that we repeat 3-5 times a night, it is impossible to judge how much sleep we are getting. We spend over half the night in stage 1 and 2 sleep, which are so light that we may think we were awake. Researchers tell us that we underestimate the amount of sleep we are get each night by 1.5 hours. When not sleeping well, don’t catastrophize. You are getting more sleep than you think.

The bottom line is that we cannot guarantee ourselves optimal sleep any more than we can guarantee ourselves pleasant dreams. What we can do is stick to our normal schedule, and remind ourselves that at least for the short run, we do not need optimal sleep to survive.

Here are some additional resources:

My Podcast on Dream Talk Radio
Say Goodnight To Insomnia
The Insomnia Workbook



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