According to the Sleep Management Institute, 10 percent of the US population suffers from chronic insomnia, but for many of those people the issue is a psychological – and not physiological – issue. Sleep scientists have known this for years, in fact cognitive changes (like a consistent bedtime, less distractions before bed, and a healthy sleep space) have always been recommended before costly pills and other medical devices. There’s now evidence to suggest that just the idea of labeling yourself an insomniac could prevent you from falling asleep on the most comfortable mattress.
Kenneth Lichstein, of the University of Alabama, has labeled this idea as the “insomnia identity” meaning that people who identify themselves as insomniacs aren’t always the ones who aren’t getting enough sleep time, or don’t own the most comfortable mattress. Insomnia identity is a complex idea that has more to do with psychology than actual sleep time. He suggests that if you label yourself with insomnia, that you’ll often feel worse in the morning whether you got less sleep than your neighbor or not. Lichstein believes that if you label yourself as insomniac, then you’ll be more susceptible to minor symptoms, react to stressors in a worse way, and lie awake at night (even in the most comfortable bed) fretting about the sleep you’re missing. It’s a messy cycle with a fatalistic viewpoint that ends in many sleepless nights which could otherwise be prevented.
Where We Go From Here
The first thing to do is to remove the stigma from insomnia. The fact of the matter is that most people suffer from insomnia at some point in their lives (over 80 percent according to some researchers). If this is the case, then we shouldn’t look at insomnia as a permanent sentence, but as a temporary problem to be improved. Sure, we all want the most comfortable mattress and best sleep technology, but there are so many ways that you can deal with this issue on a stress-reducing level.
Instead of using pills or fretting over lost sleep, try to set up a consistent bedtime, and then stick to it. If you’re not feeling immediately tired, try reading a book, or getting up and walking around to relieve some of the pent up anxiety you’re feeling. Taking an active role in your stress reduction is a good way to alleviate some of the mental anguish caused by not sleeping soundly. Not only that, it teaches your body natural coping mechanisms, so that you won’t feel like you’re chained to taking a pill every night, just so you can drift off to sleep on the most comfortable mattress.
So whether you’re a chronic insomniac, or just feel like you aren’t charging your batteries as often as you like, just remember the most important part of sleeping is putting in your time on the mattress. If you can do that, especially in the hectic workaday world that we live in, then the results will come on their own. Good luck to you, and happy sleeping.