When Dealing with Certain Issues, I Suddenly Need to Sleep

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I have been in therapy for several years and am currently working on grief tied to the death of a sibling. I am finding that as I am working on how I feel I suddenly need to sleep and will actually fall asleep. I am not making the decision to sleep but my body is suddenly shutting down. Is this a stress reaction?

A: Thank you for asking us this question. This is called psychic numbing. Whenever there is too much information for the psyche to absorb, cope with, or process, it shuts down, much like a computer might that is trying to preserve itself during a voltage surge.

Following my academic preparation for becoming a psychologist I began the emotional work in my training for psychodrama. During the groups I was a member in, issues other members were talking about would come up and I would promptly fall asleep. It took a while before I realized there was a theme to what was putting me under. That was when I began to understand what was so difficult for me to cope with.

Don’t push it. If your body is telling you to go to sleep, take a nap in a safe place, but start a journal of exactly what you were thinking about before you nodded off. After a few times you will see the pattern. At this point I would bring that information to a therapist (see the find help tab at the top for recommendations ) to help sort through the difficulty.

Our bodies are much wiser than we can imagine. Rest when your body tells you to, and then gather information about approaching the issues.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). When Dealing with Certain Issues, I Suddenly Need to Sleep. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/26/when-dealing-with-certain-issues-i-suddenly-need-to-sleep/