Cognitive Pearl #081 Sivan 2, 5775 May 20, 15

sleeping baby

 In my previous post, I spoke of a client who falling soundly asleep, is awoken by the thoughts making a racket in her mind. She’s unable to fall asleep again because of her stressed out mind and the activating signals which it broadcasts to the body.

In the following session, I suggested that she keep a journal handy. Should this episode occur again, she could use the time to ‘unload’ or ‘download’ her troubles into the journal. What was recorded could then be used for further reflection during the waking hours of the day. Or she could use the awake time to organize her thoughts so that they wouldn’t be running around her head causing all sorts of havoc. Predicting that some of the thoughts would be anxious and distorted in nature, I reviewed the procedures for doing a dysfunctional thought record with her.

Along with prescribing of a journal and a dysfunctional thought record, the client and I discussed ways to prepare her body to return to sleep. In this particular case, chamomile tea and some relaxing music turned the trick. Other clients have found relief in listening to guided imagery, taking a bath with a few drops of lavender oil added, offering a prayer, doing some light housework (I find doing the dishes to be incredibly relaxing at 3am in the morning), or through diaphragmatic breathing. 

In this specific client’s case however there were other comorbid psychological barriers which made the return to regular sleep more difficult. In other words, things were not that simple. The triggering event of the insomnia evoked many of the insecurities which had plagued her previously. Yet, these easy interventions helped restore the balm of sleep, something that helped the client deal with the crushing circumstances of her life. These interventions allowed us to keep the emotional work in the treatment room without spilling into the bedroom.