Are you excessively wakeful?

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Most of you know that sleep is not always easy for me.

My own insomnia started during a stressful time in residency when I was rotating in the ICU and literally worried day and night about patients dying on my watch. My insomnia then returned a few years later when we renovated our house. The combination of moving to a rental house, my children starting preschool, my husband becoming a volunteer firefighter, and a change in coding at work with the same busy patient load all lead me into a cycle of hyperarousal. I wasn’t insufficiently sleepy; I was excessively wakeful.

Excessive wakefulness (a term I learned from the sleep expert Rubin Naiman, Ph.D.) is a state many of us find ourselves in. When we are stressed, our bodies start releasing hormones like cortisol and epinephrine from the adrenal glands that keep us in a stressed state constantly. This is great if we are running from saber-tooth tigers, but not helpful if we want to sleep.

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How do you know if you are excessively wakeful? If you have trouble with a busy mind at bedtime or in the middle of the night and have difficulty falling asleep, your insomnia could be from excessive wakefulness.

Of course, there are other causes of insomnia too. The best advice is to talk to your doctor about what’s going on so that you can get a proper diagnosis.

Relinquishing to rest is one of the most important parts of maintaining health. See my recent blog post on Dr. Sharon Kiely’s blog Real Life Rx or read more about my philosophy on sleep. Sweet dreams!

Katie TakayasuComment