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A Paradoxical Trick for Dealing with Insomnia

You’ll quickly see why this is called a paradoxical technique but before I share it, I want to say that this is not intended to cure insomnia on its own. It’s one tool in the insomnia treatment toolbox. Quite simply, you decide, “I’m going to stay awake.” I realize this might sound like a bizarre idea. You have insomnia. The problem is you are awake when you don’t want to be, right? Why would you decide to stay awake when you are in bed and have the possibility you might fall asleep? When I talk to my clients about this technique, I am quick to caution them not to work real hard at staying awake. We don’t actually want them staying awake. The effectiveness of this technique comes from it reducing stress and/or worry. When you climb into bed, if you are like many people with insomnia, you might be dreading trying to fall asleep. You might be wondering how long it’s going to take this time and thinking about how miserable it is to be unable to fall asleep when you really want to be able to fall asleep. Now, though, falling asleep is no longer your number one goal. It’s not critical at that moment because you have decided to stay awake and stare at the ceiling.* The pressure to sleep, the urgency, is now removed. And paradoxically, that makes it more likely that you’ll be able to sleep. It works because you become more relaxed, making sleep more likely.

* You don’t have to stare at the ceiling, of course!

If you are tired of being tired and not getting good sleep, consider working with me. I specialize in CBT-I, a highly effective treatment for insomnia which typically requires only 4 sessions. In those sessions, you will get many tools for your insomnia-busting toolbox and you will leave with new confidence in your ability to sleep. Call or text me at 816-226-4678.

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