Research & Articles

Many people believe that insomnia will hurt their performance the following day. You may be surprised to find that there is no clear scientific support for that belief. Here are two quotes from scientists who reviewed the research:

“Results from the present review challenge the assumption that daytime functioning deficits are associated with insomnia. Objectively measured daytime sleepiness is not elevated in people with insomnia, and most cognitive/psychomotor tasks do not indicate deficits in people with insomnia.”

“Yet, while subjective complaints of impaired wake-time functioning are well documented, consistent objective evidence of these impairments has proved elusive, particularly with regard to cognitive functioning.”

Do you doubt these conclusions? If so, please consider the possibility that your doubts may be due to what is called “confirmation bias.” Confirmation bias refers to the tendency to notice events that confirm our pre-existing beliefs. Everyone is prone to confirmation bias.

People often make “predictions” about their future. Whenever we expect something to happen, we are basically making a prediction. For example, we often expect (predict) that we will feel certain ways in future situations, such as the dentist’s office, on a date, in a job interview, flying in a plane.

Predicting a dreadful day due to a poor night’s sleep is another example of making a prediction.

There is a lot of research on how accurately we can predict how we will feel in the future. The research provides some good and bad news. The good news is that the future is usually not as bad as our negative predictions suggest. Why? Because unexpected things happen to make the experience less negative. For example, you might expect a terrible day at work after a bad night’s sleep. But unexpected positive events often occur. You might receive some unanticipated good news. Or you may have an unexpectedly satisfying social interaction. Or you might find that your performance at work was better than you expected. Or you might feel less tired than you expect. The bottom line is that unexpected positive things often happen to make negative predictions less accurate.

The bad news that the same is true for our positive predictions. They too are also often not accurate. Why? Because something unexpected often happens that makes the event not as positive as we expect. For example, suppose we have great expectations about an upcoming trip to an amusement park. But the bus is late, it is very crowded, it rains, the lines are long.  It turns out the event is not quite as positive as you expected. Likewise, the day after a good night’s sleep may not be as great as you expect. You might sleep so well that you oversleep. You might feel groggy from so much sleep. Or something entirely unexpected might happen to spoil your positive expectation.

The bottom line is that the day after a bad night’s sleep is often not as terrible as we expect. Likewise, the day after a good night’s sleep is often not as great as we expect.

The Stimulus Control Procedure is an important part of CBT-I and  the SomniSkills Program. A great deal of scientific research has demonstrated that Stimulus Control is an effection procedure for the treatment of insomnia

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