Insomnia due to obsession: fear of losing sleep

An obsession is a form of compulsive thinking. You have a certain idea that you can’t let go of. Compulsive thinking can also affect your sleep patterns. Sleep problems can arise when you can’t sleep and try to force yourself to fall asleep. This does not work and can lead to endless sleepless nights, making your obsession worse and worse. How do you break through this so that you can sleep normally again?


An obsession is a state of mind in which you think compulsively. You have a certain idea, such as having to sleep before a certain time. If you think this often enough, you become obsessed with the idea and you cannot let go of the thought. Even if you want to put it out of your mind, at a certain point you can’t anymore. These thoughts can lead to compulsive behavior. When an obsession occurs in a healthy person, there is usually no lasting psychological damage. If the obsession is permanent, it is also called a compulsion.

Sleepless nights

We spend about a third of our lives in bed with the intention of sleeping. Unfortunately, not everyone manages to spend time in bed sleeping. Some cannot fall asleep or continue to sleep when they wake up and lie restless and tossing and turning in bed. Often it concerns one or a few nights and someone will naturally start to sleep better again, but there are people for whom this is not the case. The nights become terrible and seem to last forever. This can lead to inability to function during the day and to great frustration. You force yourself to sleep at least eight hours the next night, but often you can’t.

An obsession

Poor sleep can lead to an obsession, and the obsession will only make your sleep worse. Some people worry all day about how to sleep well. They think they need at least eight hours of sleep to function properly and are constantly watching the clock, especially at night. It then becomes increasingly difficult to relax. While you lie awake, count the number of hours you have slept and the number of hours you have left to sleep. You then think that you have to sleep, otherwise you will be tired the next day. You worry endlessly, often early in the evening. Insomnia will dominate your entire life, both day and night.


Many people have trouble sleeping because they finally have time to think after a busy day in bed. This then leads to worrying. This is absolutely the wrong time of day to be thinking about all kinds of things. This allows you to turn a small problem into a big problem and this is how so-called disaster thinking can arise. For example, if you think: I can’t sleep, but I have to be fit for work tomorrow. If that doesn’t work, I won’t be able to function and I will lose my job. You worry about losing your job, even though this is not necessary at all. It becomes impossible to relax and you can no longer sleep at all. It is better to take some time to think about it at another time and write it off if necessary. Then you can go to bed with an empty head.

How do you get rid of the obsession?

Breaking certain thoughts can be very difficult. It is often advised to first keep a sleep diary for a few weeks. There is usually a big difference in how people experience their sleep and what the actual sleep was like. This diary can be taken to your doctor or to the sleep center. The sleep center conducts research into your sleeping problem. If necessary, you will be admitted and observed at night. In some cases the sleep center is not necessary. Some doctors prescribe sleeping medication (for a short period of time) so that you can break the insomnia. Nowadays this is chosen less and less often. Sometimes you are referred to a psychologist to break the obsessive thinking.

Sleep study

A sleep study (polysomnography) can provide clarity about your sleep disorder. It will then become clear whether your sleeping problem has a medical cause or whether it is psychological. Lifestyle sometimes plays an important role. During this examination, various bodily functions are examined while you sleep. If there is nothing physically wrong with you, your way of thinking and/or lifestyle will need to be adjusted. If you would like to know more about the sleep study, click here .

Wrong thoughts

You cannot remember the moment you fall asleep. When you wake up again (shortly) afterwards, you may feel like you haven’t slept at all. Sleep research shows that people often think they sleep worse than is actually the case. Also, not everyone needs eight hours of sleep a day. There are also many people who can function well on just five or six hours of sleep per night. You should also know that you sleep the deepest during the first four to five hours of your sleep and have already had most of your recovery. It is quite possible that you can still function well if you have had less sleep.

Go to bed relaxed

Many people go to bed because it’s bedtime, but they don’t feel tired enough yet. It is better to go to bed when you are tired and relaxed. If you lie in bed thinking that you have to sleep in half an hour, there is a good chance that you will lie awake. The same applies if you lie in bed with a disordered mind. Take the time to relax, even if it means you get to bed a little later. This can be done, for example, by reading a book that is not too difficult or taking a bath. If you’re tossing and turning in bed, get out and find something relaxing until you feel sleepy. Some people benefit from self-hypnosis, meditation, mindfulness, relaxation exercises or relaxing music.

Sleep hygiene

You can do a lot yourself to sleep better. Sleep hygiene is very important here. Ensure a tidy bedroom with the right temperature, preferably not too warm. You should also provide a quiet, dark environment and fresh blankets. Before going to bed, it is better not to drink coffee or too much alcohol and not to eat too much. Don’t watch TV in bed and leave the laptop outside the bedroom. Try to go to bed around the same time every day and don’t sleep in too late on the weekend.