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How to Tell if You are an Emotional Sleeper

shutterstock_212138536A week or so ago I was talking to one of my colleagues.

We were discussing stress.

I asked her how she copes with stress in her life – her answer surprised me.

She said, “I am an ’emotional sleeper.'”

It didn’t take me long (i.e. about two seconds) to figure out that I, too, am an ’emotional sleeper.’

In fact, even on low stress days I am barely out of bed before Ifsleep am looking forward to being back in it again.

On high stress days, I can barely wait for it to be time for my favorite activity again – sleeping, of course.

What I found most odd is that I’d never heard of this term before….or even thought to think it up for myself. 

When I was really sick with my eating disorder, I had insomnia (this on account of fairly equal parts nonstop anxiety and all the caffeine I had to drink to stay awake in classes and, later, on the job).

So being able to fall asleep – even if for an hour or two – was pure heaven. It was a very temporary reprieve from the otherwise unending nightmare of my waking life.

Today, I have no trouble sleeping.

My problem actually tends towards the opposite extreme – not that I mind this much.

I find relief and release in sleep. I enjoy sleep. My vivid dreams (if not always quite so welcome as the sleep itself) instruct and inform me about obstacles and opportunities in my waking hours.

Sometimes I joke that my dream life is more exciting than my awake life – but I’m not really joking. Sometimes it really is more exciting!

Sleep makes me happy. It also makes me rested – something I got precious little of during the 20 years or so I was working my way out of the eating disorder mess.

My mentor has taught me that this type of “pendulum swing” is fairly inevitable when course-correcting away from life-limiting habits and towards habits more conducive to healthy, happy living.

So I assume in time the 10+ hours of sleep I need each day will ease back to a more manageable 9 or 8 hours, plus I’ll be getting a new mattress from a mattress labor day sale I’ll be attending.

But for now I am happily riding the pendulum swing away from insomnia and towards deep, full, nightly rest, preferring to stockpile a little extra rather than ever again risk not getting enough.

Plus, everyone needs a hobby. At long last, I can gratefully count sleep as one of mine. 🙂

Today’s Takeaway: Do you recognize yourself in my conversation with my colleague? Could you perhaps be an “emotional sleeper” as well? How do your sleep patterns interact with your stress level? When you can’t get enough sleep, how does it affect you physically, mentally, and emotionally? What do you do to try to get more sleep – is it working? If not, what else might you try to help you get the full amount of sleep you need each night?

p.s. In this, I am aware – now, after doing some further research – that there are all kinds of names for “having trouble falling asleep.” Please know this post is not an attempt to a) make light of the various medical causes for disordered sleeping, or b) discourage you from consulting a medical professional if you struggle to stay asleep/stay awake. It’s just that I personally like and resonate with the term “emotional sleeping” – and I thought if I find meaning and value in it, perhaps you will too!

Sleeping at work image available from Shutterstock.

How to Tell if You are an Emotional Sleeper

Shannon Cutts

Freelance writer. Author. Cockatiel, redfoot tortoise & box turtle mama.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2020). How to Tell if You are an Emotional Sleeper. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 23, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Mar 2020
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