Why does Someone with BPD have Intrusive Thoughts while Trying to Sleep?

Sleeping problems are very common for people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The key factors for sleep disturbance among people with BPD are dealing with intrusive thoughts, difficulty controlling impulses, trouble regulating emotions, and anxiety. In this article, we'll answer why intrusive thoughts come right when we're trying to sleep.

We'll discuss how the mind works in this article, why people with BPD have trouble falling asleep due to intrusive thoughts, and how to improve it. This is not only for people with BPD, it's actually common for people who pent up a lot of stuff in general.


BPD intrusive thoughts when trying to sleep

When people with BPD lay in bed, they often find themselves dwelling on negative thoughts which prevent them from falling asleep. Hours could pass, and sometimes a whole night goes by without being able to sleep. Why does this happen, and how can we prevent intrusive thoughts from disturbing our sleep?


We tend to indulge in whatever thought enters our minds. For example, when I believe something said was directed toward me, I may start to worry about what I've done wrong or whether I'm a bad person. Each thought creates an additional thought, and so on. It's almost like thoughts breed. We can create an entire fictional universe inside our minds. But why does it happen, specifically, when we go to bed? To know this, you'll first have to understand the foundation of how thoughts work.


When we tend to distract ourselves from our thoughts by doing something else, the energy of the thought goes dormant, meaning that the thought isn't resolved. If someone is distracting themselves all day, there's no space for the dormant thoughts to come up. And when the mind finds a moment of silence, a moment without sensory stimulation, the dormant thoughts arise.


The moment we want to sleep, which is the only time we don't have any sensory input, the dormant thoughts start to fill the vacuum in our minds. We may start to think about random stuff that happened a long time ago while wondering why we're thinking about it now. The whole point is that you didn't process this 'thing' that happened that went dormant.


''As long as you don't give yourself space to think, it will burst out thinking anytime your mind finds space.''

Our minds evolved in a society where we are sensorily bombarded all the time, and there is not much time to process or think about the things that we experience on a day-to-day basis. Besides intrusive thoughts occurring more at night, it's also why people have very profound shower thoughts since their mind has space to think. And the one thing that we've deprived ourselves of is space to think.


BPD how to have less intrusive thoughts before bed?

Ask yourself, how much empty mind time did I have today? If you want to stop having intrusive thoughts when you go to bed, the most important thing is to give your mind space to let the pent-up stuff out. This is why going for a walk before bed can be very good. If you do so, it's ideal to not listen to music and to not participate in a conversation. Additionally, therapy is the ideal place to create a space for you to vent and process stuff.


Keep notice if a thought leads to more thoughts or if it diminishes the thought. When you process thoughts healthily, you let them pass through your mind until it's gone, whereas in the cases of maladaptive daydreaming and overthinking, each thought creates an additional thought. It's kind of starting with a single lego, and then you're adding more legos to it. The more that you add, the bigger it gets and the more it occupies your mind. But when you process a thought, your mind moves on to other things.


People who vent diminish the thought energy. If you vent a trauma, that hopefully diminishes the energy of the trauma. If you vent your new business idea, it diminishes the energy of the business idea, and the business probably never comes to fruition.


''Anything that is kept within you will grow in strength, and anything that is ventilated out will diminish.''

Reading before bed can be beneficial because it's a physiologically calming activity. However, when you're reading, you're not giving space to your mind since you're still occupying it with something. On the other hand, everything is better than looking at a screen because looking at a screen prevents melatonin production.


This article discussed how intrusive thoughts might keep you awake at night and how to do something about it. However, you might be suffering from a more serious condition related to your sleeping disturbances, and therefore it's recommended to talk to your local practitioner.