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Self-help program

8. Emotional awareness

The previous four exercises focused on sleep-related thoughts. We are now shifting focus to emotions.

Find a way to incorporate exercises involving thinking patterns permanently into your daily routine. The change that you are aiming for requires that you keep doing the exercises. A good way to stay diligent is to record the exercises that you do each day in your sleep diary.

Feelings associated with insomnia

Insomnia evokes a wide range of emotions, including some quite intense ones. Examples include anger, fear, shame, helplessness and a sense of inferiority.

These emotions can be raw, painful and challenging, but they are nonetheless very common. Many people with insomnia struggle with similar feelings.

Introspection and emotional awareness

You cannot change emotions directly, but you can reduce their power and influence. Emotions should not be denied or suppressed, but allowed to exist.

You can practice your own attitude to emotions, for example, with an imagination exercise where you step outside yourself to look at your emotions from a distance.

Emotional awareness and introspection can help to regulate emotions and physical sensations associated with insomnia.

How can practising help?

The following exercise examine insomnia from the perspective of emotions and physical sensations. 





Exercise: Physical sensations


Learn to identify and recognize different emotions. This will also make it easier to notice the emotions that you associate with insomnia.


This exercise has two parts.

In the first part, answer questions about how your body feels and what physical sensations you experience.

The second part tests your ability to recognize the emotions that are causing your physical sensations. We have provided a list of emotions to help you.

1. Physical sensations

Stop for a moment to think about each of the following questions:

  • What sensation do you feel in your body right now?
  • Does your chest feel tight, do you have a knot in your stomach or are your shoulders tense?
  • Are you having trouble breathing? Does your breathing feel out of the ordinary in any way?
  • Does taking calm, deep breaths feel difficult?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable analyzing your physical sensations?

My physical sensations

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2. Emotions

Once you have located where the sensation in your body originates, focus on that location and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the sensation grow stronger the more you think about it?
  • Is the rate or depth of your breathing changing?
  • Do you notice anything else?

Below is a list of emotions. Is the feeling one of the ones listed here, or something else?

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