Curing Insomnia is Like Climbing a Mountain

Being unable to sleep can be very distressing, especially when it’s an acute episode. One analogy that works when I think about treating insomnia is that Curing Insomnia is Like Climbing a Mountain.

Think about going for a hike up a mountain to the scenic view from the peak. You look at the paths that lead to the top, and choose the one that’s best for you. Your choice is based on where you came from, your preferences (a long gradual climb, or a short steep one), and your other abilities or conditions. Once you choose your path you stick with it, knowing that if you switch to another path, that horizontal movement is not getting you any closer to the goal.

It’s helpful to think of curing insomnia in a similar way, that you look at the treatment options available to you, and choose the one that’s the best fit. Once you’ve selected the treatment you want, stick with it long enough for it to be effective. Sometimes when people are in an acute episode of insomnia it is tempting to try different treatments, each for a short time. What’s more effective is to give a reasonable trial of a treatment approach (several weeks or a month at least), before switching paths. Knowing that insomnia is cured one night at a time, bit by bit, just like climbing a mountain can help keep you calm and focused on the end goal.

Here’s to the view from the top, and the peaceful sleep at the end of the path!

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2 Comments on “Curing Insomnia is Like Climbing a Mountain”

  1. Michael Cronin Says:

    This is such a great metaphor for overcoming chronic illness.

    • Dr. Catherine Darley Says:

      The other metaphor I like to use is two parallel tire ruts on a dirt road. One is the poor sleep rut, the other is the healthy sleep rut that gets worn deeper each night.

      As we improve our sleep, we move first to the level ground in the middle. This is when it’s easy for life events or other sleep disruptions to knock us back into poor sleep. But as we continue to have good sleep night after night we get entrenched in the healthy sleep rut, our sleep is robust, and can’t be knocked out of the healthy groove as easily.


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