Valley Girl With a Brain

Questioning, like, everything

How Insomnia Is Created by Fear of Insomnia

Insomnia can kill you and other reasons you can't sleep.

Here I am. It's well past 1:00 a.m. and I'm still up, struck by an erratic bout of insomnia. Never mind that I have to go to work in a few hours, or that it's a good four hours past my typical bed time-- for some reason, I cannot go to sleep, and like so many Americans, I have turned to the Internet to find a cure.

I discover that there are many websites dedicated to curing insomnia. A few tips that stand out:

1.    sleeping pills

2.    stop worrying or distance yourself from stressful subjects

3.    don't eat or drink anything right before bed

For the veteran insomniac, these tips are probably well ingrained. But as a fledgling sleep-deprived person, they are news to me. And while these suggestions are indeed handy, they are not much help, considering: I don't have sleeping pills at this moment, I'm not particularly stressed out about anything and it has been more than six hours since I've eaten anything.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Still, I do love how No. 2 simply states that you should "stop worrying." Anyone who has ever worried about something knows the impossibility of stopping it as he or she pleases. Worrying is like a forest fire-- it usually just grows and grows until extinguished by greater forces than itself.

Interestingly, I conduct some further research into insomnia and am disturbed by what I find. Some studies suggest that insomnia may actually increase the likelihood of having a heart attack or contracting diabetes, so if you weren't originally worrying about something stressful, you are now.

It even turns out that chronic insomnia is also linked to a higher risk of depression and death.

Needless to say, I am now completely stressed out and even further from a goodnight's sleep. An hour into my insomnia, and I am in panic mode-- already planning my will and feeling gloomy that I still haven't seen the Northern Lights during my short stay on earth.

I know research studies are meant to enlighten and to help explain the nature of people and their personalities, but sometimes, I think that they do a better job of freaking people out and driving them toward insanity.

In other words, my insomnia may have occurred as a one-time fluke, but it is currently thriving on my very fear of it.

Sadly, I have no advice for anyone who is up at this God-awful hour with me tonight, except: Do not google 'psychology insomnia.'

Follow me on Twitter: @thisjenkim

Jen Kim is a former Psychology Today intern and a graduate of Northwestern University.

more...

Subscribe to Valley Girl With a Brain

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?