Dr. Donna Phair

Clinical Health Psychologist


New Jersey Office
41 Reckless Place
Red Bank, New Jersey 07701


Sleep difficulties

I have treated numerous people with extreme difficulties in being able to fall asleep, stay asleep or some combination of the two.  They develop an anticipatory anxiety before even getting into the bed, wondering whether or not they will get sleep.  Once in the bed, the anxiety can turn into fear and dread. 

To combat this cycle, many have turned to sleep medication.  In the beginning, it’s wonderful, and they ponder on how they existed with such a lack of sleep. The medication itself, however, can start to create anxiety, and people often wonder what will happen if it stops working.  Or you wake up in the middle of the night and start the mental dance of “should I take more, but if I do, I may be tired tomorrow, but if I don’t sleep that may be worse”. Back and forth goes the conversation in your head.  This continues until your anxiety is so wound up that the only remedy is to take more.  Alternatively, you may have this conversation before going to bed, questioning whether you should try to sleep tonight without the aids.

Sleep difficulties are successfully treated with CBT.  I have treated many people with all variations of sleep anxiety and people that have had head traumas that disturbed their brain’s sleep region.  Eventually, they have all learned to sleep without the medication.  Now I must state, I am not against sleep medication, it is a valuable treatment option, but it is best if it be taken for a short duration and not over the course of your lifetime.