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More Rest Leads to Less Psychosis

A recent study showed that just a brief internet-based CBT intervention aimed at improving sleep was also effective in reducing paranoia and hallucinations.  (You can access an article about the study at this link and the full academic article at this link.)

This finding adds to evidence suggesting that educating people how to improve their sleep should be a basic part of helping people with “psychosis.”

This idea isn’t new, but hasn’t been taken seriously enough.  One might say, it’s so basic that it gets overlooked (especially by people who are sure psychosis is definitely the result of a special “illness” rather than perhaps just life problems that aren’t being dealt with adequately.)

A classic book on the psychodynamic approach to psychosis, “Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia,”suggests reminding people they have the option of “just resting” if they can’t sleep, and that 8 hours of resting is probably worth 5 hours of sleep.

I encourage something like the “just resting” approach, but I also suggest people try to meditate as they rest.  For example, a person might simply focus on the breath and then gently bring their attention back to the breath every time they get distracted.  People sometimes complain that this type of meditation is boring, and it’s especially hard to do this kind of meditation while lying down without falling asleep – but in this case, that’s not a bad thing!

One of the things that often keeps people awake, once they have gotten “keyed up,” is simply worrying about whether they will sleep or not.  Worry itself is activation and can prevent sleep.  So what I suggest is that people tell themselves they will either get into a good and restful meditative state – if they are awake enough to carry out the meditation successfully – or they will fall asleep, and it really doesn’t matter which happens!  In either case, they will get a decent amount of rest.

One site that has quite a bit on mindfulness to improve sleep is nosleeplessnights.

Anyway, I hope if you have any kind of difficulties with sleep, that you try out some of these ideas!

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