Insomnia while Sick

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This topic contains 6 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Chee2308 3 months, 1 week ago.

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    ✘ Not a client

    I have been sick before the closing of 2021 and up until now. During the first two days of sickness, I was sleeping the whole day because I had a high fever. When that subsided the next day, I experienced a sleepless night while I’m still sick (cough and throat pain). And it went a four-day stretch of sleepless nights and if I could sleep, I only sleep around 2-3hrs per day (which I did on Day 2 and 3). However, on Day 1 and Day 4, I had 0 sleep. This caused alarm to me and my family because I should have been recovering and resting a lot, which I didn’t because I can’t sleep.

    I consulted a sleep doctor nearby today and he provided me with a sleeping aid and some techniques such as Paradoxical intention and getting out of bed when I couldn’t sleep. My question is, how I can implement this together with positive thinking and not worrying at all, given all the distress and trauma I experience for the past few days?

    I would appreciate a response with some helpful tips from this thriving community. Thank you.



    Sorry to hear about your illness and hope you’ve made a full recovery. It’s not uncommon for people to experience sleep disruption when they become sick or have a life changing event occur in their life. It’s when we begin changing our thoughts and our behaviors to the sleep disruption that perpetuates our sleep issue.

    We have much less control over our thoughts than we think we do but we can control our actions toward them when they present themselves. Most of the time, our thoughts are unhelpful and should be treated as what they are – just thoughts. Changing how we manage our relationship with our thoughts is a beneficial method of overcoming ruminating thoughts about your sleep. For example, if you begin to have thoughts such as – “what if I don’t sleep tonight”, “if I don’t sleep tonight, I’ll feel like crap tomorrow”, “I won’t be able to function tomorrow without sleep” and so on, determine if the thought is helpful and not simply a true/false answer. If the thought isn’t helpful, then your action/response to it might be, “Thank you for sharing that” and then redirect your attention to something you enjoy or the activity you were engaged in when the thought arrived. The goal is not to get rid of the thought but to see it for what it is – just a thought and not to fight it. Negative thoughts only become a problem when we believe they are truthful and give them our attention.

    I hope this helps.

    Scott J

    The content of this post is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, disorder, or medical condition. It should never replace any advice given to you by your physician or any other licensed healthcare provider. Insomnia Coach LLC offers coaching services only and does not provide therapy, counseling, medical advice, or medical treatment. All content is provided “as is” and without warranties, either express or implied.

    ✘ Not a client

    Hi Scott J (@scottctj), thank you for the response to my post.

    To give an update, I have fully recovered from my illness a month ago and built confidence in sleeping again. I’ve done it through some routines such as taking a warm bath before bedtime, taking some sleeping medicines that are prescribed by my sleep doctor, and performing some relaxation techniques when I’m having difficulties in sleeping again.

    However, last night, I encountered another sleeping difficulty, despite performing routines and relaxation techniques. I just had almost four hours of broken sleep, the rest of the night I was struggling to get some sleep. I’m not taking sleep medicines anymore since last Monday this week, after taking them for almost 3-4 weeks, however, the problem arose again. I’m feeling slow and sluggish today at work and starting to get anxious again about experiencing again tonight since what happened last month was really traumatic to me and I don’t want it to occur again.

    What advice could you give for me to combat this? And if another sleepless night does happen again, what could I do to help myself stay calm and relaxed and eventually fall asleep naturally?

    I would appreciate your response and other responses from this community. Thank you.


    ✓ Client

    Hi @eviancenita

    Advice to combat this? What about no advice? Because nothing is wrong. Never was and very likely never will be. Your ability to sleep can never be broken. It is built in since birth. Just like eating, breathing, peeing or defecating. Your body takes care of it! If you can’t sleep, then it prob means your body doesn’t need it at that point in time. If you are very sleepy due to going on for prolonged period with it, you can and you will sleep, practically anywhere, standing or hung upside down, it doesn’t matter


    ✓ Client

    Conversely, if you can’t sleep, either because you are prob quite well-rested or suffering from extreme stress (even under great stress, you will still sleep if you are sleep deprived), then you won’t sleep even if you take a ton of pills, or check yourself into a $50,000 hotel suite. You can never force it! Sleep works like this: it gets stronger the longer you go without it, nothing can stop it and nothing can produce it either except being awake long enough. It works exactly like hunger, you just get hungrier the longer you go without eating. There’s nothing fancy going on here or anything that’s hard to understand. Sleep is pretty simple. But that said, the normal amount of wakefulness to generate sufficient sleepiness is around 16-18 hours for most people so ask yourself, have you actually been awake long enough to be sleepy? Stop going to bed because of what time it is, go by the amount of time spent awake. If it’s a consistent amount every night, your sleep should be pretty consistent too. This is what cbt-i is all about. Setting a regular bedtime schedule and that’s it! The rest is up to your body. Excessive worry over it or taking unnecessary measures to force sleep to happen is not only counter-productive but also reinforces the fear around it which only prolongs the insomnia episodes. Stop all the sleep efforts, only this way will your mind settle down enough for your body to get its rest. Good luck!


    ✘ Not a client

    Hi @chee2308

    Thank you for explaining how sleep works and for ensuring me that nothing is wrong with me. The reason why I’m like this is maybe because of fear from the traumatic experiences I had during my insomnia episodes in the past. This heightens my fear and anxiety unconsciously and slowly being built throughout the day, especially on days I had a night of poor or non-existent sleep.

    You are correct. I need to believe in the fact that my ability to sleep can never be broken, and I would be able to sleep naturally, eventually. I will hold on to this every time.

    I understand that excessive worrying and putting too much sleep effort is hinders for sleep to come. However, do you have any advice or recommendations on how I can help my mind to stop worrying and being anxious, so my body would be able to get the rest it needs?

    Thank you.


    ✓ Client

    Hi @eviancenita!

    You should be able to get over the anxiety in the same way most of us did. By slowly desensitizing yourself to your fears over time. And then realizing these fears are way overblown and irrational. By being willing to entertain the idea of poor sleep. Ultimately if you believe in yourself, your confidence should return.

    In the end, it boils down to your relationship with poor sleep and how you think about it. Another person could have exactly the same sleep patterns as yours but still thinks he sleeps okay, is okay with it, goes on his life as usual, and not making a big fuss out of it. Because he thinks nothing is wrong and therefore nothing needs fixing! It is really all about perception and a change of mindset. If you don’t make a big deal out of it or endlessly trying to seek answers, it will blow over and your issues will resolve on its own with almost no effort.

    Nobody came into this world “learning how to sleep”. There’s no kindergarten for it! As babies, we just slept whenever we wanted and that’s how nature really intended it. If everybody just goes to sleep whenever they are truly sleepy, and not because so-called science or whatever literature says “you should sleep at 11pm and wake at 7am”, then technically insomnia won’t even exist at all. Go back to basics if you have to. Ditch all the rules and the efforts. Be brave to face whatever the outcome and understand that true sleep requires neither effort nor preparation. It is supposed to be natural and effortless. But it should be pretty consistent if you are consistent with your sleeping schedules. Good luck.

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