Insomnia is not a completely understood condition and those who have not experienced it can’t begin to comprehend the cause.
Following are 8 myths about insomnia you may believe. Some may shock you, but others will make you feel less responsible for what you can’t control. Maybe those will help you “rest easy.”
- You only have insomnia if you can’t fall asleep.
Not being able to fall asleep is only one symptom of insomnia. The National Sleep Foundation reports that waking up too early, frequent night awakenings, and not being able to fall back asleep if woken are all symptoms of insomnia.
- Insomnia is unrelated to other medical conditions.
Insomnia can be caused by anxiety, depression, and can cause hypertension, obesity, and cardiovascular problems. Sleep is tied very closely to the health of our entire bodies.
- If you can’t sleep, you should get trying.
The truth is, it depends. If it would be more relaxing to lie in bed awake than getting up and reading or listening to music, then lie in bed. However, if lying in bed awake is making you crazy, it may be better after fifteen minutes or so of trying to get up and distract yourself.
- If you can’t wake up without an alarm clock, you aren’t getting enough sleep.
Many people, especially night people, experience sleep inertia, which is drowsiness upon waking. The Sleep Health Foundation says that this feeling can last up to 30 minutes and make you feel like you are still tired and need more sleep upon waking, even if you have had plenty of sleep. Just because you need an alarm clock and a cup of coffee to start your day doesn’t mean you are sleep deprived.
- Insomnia is your fault. Just go to sleep!
All insomniacs have heard “just go to sleep” from someone who doesn’t understand the problem. It is not your fault you have insomnia and blaming yourself will only make it worse.
- Insomnia is temporary.
Insomnia may be temporary for some due to stress or trauma but it may be a chronic problem for others who are predisposed to it. According to the National Sleep Foundation, chronic insomnia means you have trouble sleeping three or more nights a week for at least three months. Usually chronic insomniacs need to seek treatment to recover.
- You can “catch up” on sleep.
Believing you can catch up on sleep on the weekends or by taking naps during the day may only hurt your sleep patterns further. It may make you feel better temporarily, but your body needs regular quality nights of sleep rather than relying on catching up later.
- Falling asleep is gradual.
Insomniacs know what it feels like to monitor their body for signs they are falling asleep. It is especially frustrating to be jolted awake when you felt you were “almost asleep.” In most people, however, falling asleep happens in a moment like a switch. Unfortunately for some, this switch doesn’t quite work right.