Giving Yourself This Label Could Be Ruining Your Sleep

Calling yourself this could be the only thing standing in your way of a good night's sleep.

Young woman with insomnia cover her face with hand in bedMita Stock Images/ShutterstockSleep is a wonderful thing that doesn’t just feel good, but is completely necessary to our overall health. When we’re rested, our physical and mental health thrives. When we don’t get enough sleep, we break down in more ways than one: Bad moods, bad habits, dull skin, poor work performance, and even delirium can all result from too much tossing and turning and not enough dreaming.

Though we all struggle to get a good night’s sleep from time to time, if you start to label yourself an insomniac, you may be making the problem worse.

In a recent paper published in the Journal of Behaviour Research and Therapy, psychologist Kenneth Lichstein calls insomnia more than a sleep disorder, but also a cognitive appraisal disorder. The paper, titled “Insomnia Identity,” examines the difference between the label and the condition. Here the seven different types of insomnia you could have.

Lichstein writes: “There may be many people out there suffering because of their insomnia identity, rather than an actual lack of sleep.”

The paper reviewed 20 studies that measured poor sleep and self-reports of poor sleep, and found that there is very little overlap between the two. One study revealed that people who were poor sleepers didn’t actually define themselves as insomniacs. And because of their lack of labeling, they didn’t experience fatigue or anxiety the following day any more than those who slept much better. Another study found that, despite the fact that poor sleep is typically linked to a 300 to 500 percent higher risk of blood pressure, people who didn’t think of themselves as insomniacs didn’t reveal such an increase.

Meanwhile, the paper found that people who sleep well but consider themselves insomniacs tended to wake up with fatigue, depression, anxiety, and hypertension.

Lichstein’s findings reveal a very intriguing reality: despite sleep being a biological function, you can temporarily trick your brain to either think you’re an insomniac and experience the repercussions, or think you sleep well and spring out of bed each morning. “Worry about poor sleep is a stronger pathogen than poor sleep,” Lichstein says. “Perception creates reality.”

Read on for more secrets sleep doctors want you to know.

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Alexa Erickson is a lifestyle and news writer currently working with Reader's Digest, SHAPE Magazine, and various other publications. She loves writing about science news, health, wellness, food and drink, beauty, fashion, home decor, and her travels. Visit her site Living by Lex.