Triggers of Chronic Insomnia

Certain things for me tended to set insomnia off or intensify it.

For example, the insomnia tended to get “triggered” the night before, or even days before, a day that I know would be stressful, challenging or activity filled. Prior to these days, in particular, I would worry and think about not being able to sleep well and how more difficult the day will be for me if I do not. These thoughts and worries, of course, created stress in me which resulted in me sleeping poorly.

Below are the rules I followed to deal with these triggering events so that the stress and resulting sleeplessness they can cause was minimized.

Rule number one. I did not avoid potential triggers. For example, I did not avoid or cancel days or activities that would be stressful, challenging and busy. As I discuss here, avoidance would only make things worse for me over the long term by reinforcing my fear and sending the wrong message to my subconscious.

Rule number two. I calmly analyzed the trigger(s) the best I could under the light of reason. I ask myself, for example, what are the facts exactly? Will the day really be as difficult as it seems, or am I making a mountain out of a molehill? When I did this, the trigger usually turned out to be much less scary than I previously estimated and, as a result, my stress level fell and so did my negative sleep thoughts.

Rule number three. If my analysis did show that tomorrow would indeed be a difficult, stressful day, then I asked myself what I can do now to make the day less stressful. For example, if I have a presentation to give tomorrow, could I prepare more now so that I am more confident and less worried about how I will do? If I am not sure that I know exactly how to get to the location where I give my presentation, can I make a trial run? If I don’t know what I will wear, why not decide on this before bedtime?

Finally, a big source of stress for me would involve my alarm clock. I always worried that, for whatever reason, it would not go off, especially on the mornings of important days. This worry would contribute to my stress and help keep me from sleeping. I finally fixed this by getting three alarm clocks of various types as well as an automated phone wake-up service. This solution totally removed the oversleeping concern of mine and as a result reduced sleep-destroying stress.

Properly addressing the things that can trigger insomnia is often an overlooked technique in my opinion. Using the above rules were important in allowing me to overcome chronic sleeplessness.

Next: Negative Sleep Thoughts






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