Until sleep arrives...our worries and thoughts can disrupt sleep onset! know that there are simple tips to prevent this from happening!
The way we interpret the world around us, the meanings we give to daily events, are capable of generating emotions and consequently interfere with our behavior. Yes, the way we think and perceive the world can change our feelings and, consequently, our way of acting and reacting to the environment.
According to Beck (1995), individuals attribute meaning to events, people, feelings and other aspects of their lives, and based on that, they behave in a certain way and build different hypotheses about the future and about their own identity. This is the central basis of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and today we will talk about how this mechanism can interfere with the quality of sleep, often leading to insomnia and harming our mental health.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that has different origins, being based on three fundamental components of Spielman et.al, what we call “3 Ps”, namely:
The first component is the Predisposing, which is characterized by affective, physiological and cognitive factors of the individual, making them more vulnerable to developing insomnia, whether due to family genetic or cognitive factors, such as ruminative thoughts and concerns.
The second is what we call Precipitants, they are aspects that trigger or start the first episode of insomnia, often caused by stress in the social, professional, family sphere, etc.
And the third and last component is Perpetuating, which are habits, behaviors and inappropriate thoughts about sleep that keep the insomnia picture. All these components, associated with the patient's personality and the way he interprets the events around him, can lead to chronic insomnia.
Individuals with insomnia tend to have more depressive characteristics, rigid and ruminative thoughts. Ruminative thoughts are intrusive thoughts related to problem solving, reliving and planning everyday events, as well as excessive worries, all of which intensify cognitive hyperalertness, leading to difficulties in falling asleep. Another common aspect in patients with insomnia is what we call cognitive distortions, which can be understood as systematic errors in perception and information processing, leading to false expectations about sleep and its habits, so such beliefs can often lead to fear of sleep, as well as catastrophic thoughts about the consequences of an unrestorative night's sleep. Such behaviors are predictors for the maintenance of the insomnia condition, causing an aversive sleep conditioning, thus hindering the beginning and maintenance of sleep.
Thus, the treatment of insomnia encompasses changes in habits and behavior, as well as clarifying false expectations and dysfunctional beliefs related to sleep. This technique is what we call Cognitive Restructuring, as it seeks to address thoughts that interfere with sleep, leading the patient to develop more realistic, functional and flexible beliefs about sleep. This strategy allows the patient to improve their efficiency and sleep latency, as well as the factors that maintain the insomnia condition, including cognitive hyperalertness.
Here are some tips to alleviate bedtime worries:
1) Always have an agenda by the head of the bed, put all your thoughts and plans for the next day there, this ensures that you will remember them all, leaving you more peaceful and calm.
2) Get organized! Make your weekly schedule and try to fulfill the proposed goals.
3) Be assertive in your day. Take a stand in the face of conflicts, point out your opinions and ideas, this allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment, not taking unresolved decisions to bed.
4) Live in the present, the here and now, remembering that we are often not in control of everything, and that bedtime is bedtime.
5) Lastly, be flexible with yourself, you can always start over. Nothing better than a good night's sleep and day after day.
White January: mental health and sleep
We are in the month of Janeiro Branco, which brings as a campaign to raise awareness about mental health. Thus, the way we give meaning to the world contributes to the quality of sleep and therefore to our mental health. Many psychiatric illnesses can be developed based on dysfunctional beliefs about themselves, about the world and about the future, depression is one of them and is directly associated with insomnia.
Finally, sleeping well, being at ease with life, thinking more realistic and functional thoughts, contribute to a healthy life in all its physical, social and mental aspects. So be flexible and allow to see the world from various angles and ways.
Take care, because sleeping well is a promotion of physical health and also MENTAL HEALTH!
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BECK JS. Cognitive therapy: basics and beyond. New York: Guilford Press; 1995.
SPIELMAN, Arthur J. Assessment of insomnia. Clinical Psychology Review, v. 6, n. 1, p. 11-25, 1986.
CARNEY, Colleen E.; EDINGER, Jack D. Identifying critical beliefs about sleep in primary insomnia. Sleep, v. 29, n. 3, p. 342-350, 2006.