Coping Mechanisms Make a Difference

APRIL 01, 2006

Although the number and types of stressors individuals experience can play a role in the initiation of insomnia, the way individuals cope with those stressors can alter its duration. A recent article reported in Psychosomatic Medicine (January-February 2006) describes the results of a study on coping styles and the maintenance of insomnia. Individuals encounter 2 types of stressors—those they can control and those they cannot control. The well-adjusted coping style for stressors that can be controlled is monitoring, which involves seeking information. The well-adjusted coping style for stressors that cannot be controlled is blunting, which involves distracting oneself from the stressor.

In this study, a significantly greater proportion of the patients with insomnia exhibited a monitoring coping style, whereas significantly more of the good sleepers exhibited a blunting coping style. Surprisingly, the poor sleepers often practiced better sleep hygiene, compared with good sleepers.