Insomnia is defined as either having a difficult time getting to sleep, or a hard time staying asleep. Paradoxical insomnia is where you are asleep, but are convinced you are awake. This is said to happen to about 5% of insomnia sufferers. The treatment for paradoxical insomnia is counter-intuitive, but it goes something like this:
- Reprogram yourself to know that this is indeed happening – you are sleeping a lot more than you think. This is especially true if you are asymptomatic of insomnia the next day – if you’re not excessively tired or unfocused, chances are good that you did get some quality sleep last night (not the best quality, mind you).
- Sleep restriction is one of the primary ways of reprogramming your sleep. When you practice this technique, you’ll sleep deeper, your overall sleep quality will improve, and you’ll start to “know” that you slept the previous night. Like most things involving your sleep, there’s a real “self-fulfilling” aspect to it. Click on the link to take you to a detailed post about sleep restriction.
To know that I’m not all wet when I make these pronouncements, there’s a recent article in Psychology Today that goes into some background on paradoxical insomnia, and reiterates the sleep restriction theme – although I think I give a lot more detail on the specific technique in the linked post.
When all else fails, whether you have a paradoxical understanding of exactly how you sleep or not, the sleep restriction we talk about here is a powerful idea. It can overcome even the most stubborn insomnia (primary, not secondary), and can be the “weapon of last resort”. It’s not particularly comfortable to go through, but it works.
As I’ve said many, many times on this blog “sleep is all in your head”…
Fix your head, and fix your sleep.