insomnia identity
n. The erroneous belief that one has trouble sleeping, which leads to physical and psychological problems similar to those experienced by true insomniacs.
With an insomnia identity, seeking help is liable to make things worse. Drag your weary bones to the doctor and she may be willing to prescribe sleeping pills. But apart from the fact that they’re not very effective, and often very addictive, the benefits are likely to be outweighed by the very act of visiting the doctor: by doing so, you’ve doubled down on your insomnia identity, signalling to your subconscious mind that you have an intransigent problem, requiring medical intervention.
—Oliver Burkeman, “Can’t sleep? Tell yourself it’s not a big deal,” The Guardian (London), April 20, 2018
In a similar vein, some cancer patients will talk about “cancer identity” and the ways that a diagnosis has affected how they fundamentally see themselves. While insomnia may seem like a more trivial issue by comparison, the same mechanism is at work: Once an “insomnia identity” is implanted in a person’s mind — once they go from “experiencing insomnia” to “being an insomniac” — it can feel like a powerful shift.
—Cody Delistraty, “'Insomnia Identity': When Not Sleeping Becomes a Part of Who You Are,” The Cut, November 18, 2017
"The insomnia identity,” he writes, “centres around the idea that the insomnia patient believes himself to be a bad sleeper or someone who cannot sleep, often despite evidence to the contrary.”
—Johanna Thomas-Corr, “The Sleep Solution: why your sleep is broken and how to fix it by Dr W Chris Winter - review,” Evening Standard (London), July 20, 2017
2014 (earliest)
Insomnia identity: Patient believes they have a sleep disorder. Non-complaining poor sleepers (ie, individuals accepting of less than ideal sleep), would not be diagnosed with insomnia.
—Daniel Taylor, et al., Handbook of Insomnia, Springer, May 28, 2014