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Asomnia v insomnia

There's a common misconception about insomnia and sleep. When arousal/anxiety/stress is high, it will override our ability to sleep. Sometimes this goes on for so long we think we've lost that ability. But we haven't.

In times of stress, your sleep system naturally keeps you from getting too much shut eye. It goes back to our most basic survival instinct; if your body is in a high state of arousal, then you might be in danger and staying awake (or sleeping very lightly) could save your life.

Going through a period of lack of sleep is referred to as 'a-somnia'. Once the stressful period comes to an end, your arousal drops back below the threshold that would say to your brain 'wake up! and you should revert back to your normal sleep patterns. That's different from INsomnia - the disorder that is characterised by self-perpetuating sleeplessness.

But what keeps it going beyond the stressful period? You! Worrying about sleep and therefore keeping arousal high. Seeing lack of sleep as a threat. These things keep arousal higher, and say to the brain 'stay awake because of danger/distress'. And because this naturally creates wakefulness, it worsens sleep - which then drives more worry... and voila, we have Insomnia. So your autocorrect might change 'asomina' to 'insomnia' but not all sleeplessness is 'abnormal'. If you are going through a temporarily stressful situation, the most important thing you can do is remind yourself that your lack of sleep is just the sign of a healthy sleep system, and not worry yourself about it. When the stress factors are removed, the sleep issues will vacate with it. If you're worried about your sleep, or are worried about your worry about sleep, a short 30 minutes 1:1 call with our brilliant Sleep Coach, Tracy Hannigan might be all you need to avoid the dreaded path to insomnia. Visit her page here.


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