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When Dealing with Certain Issues, I Suddenly Need to Sleep

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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?

When Dealing with Certain Issues, I Suddenly Need to Sleep

Answered by on -


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

When Dealing with Certain Issues, I Suddenly Need to Sleep

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

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). When Dealing with Certain Issues, I Suddenly Need to Sleep. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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