Bedroom Confessions: Why You Need To Ask About Sleep

If you are someone who works in a helping field you need to be asking about sleep. Asking someone about their sleep patterns is often a way that I start a conversation with a survivor. Sleep is a safe subject especially with someone you don't know. And this is the kind of bedroom confession you need!

Asking a "how" or "why" questions gets people to dig deeper, giving you more information to work with, so says behavioral investigator Vanessa Van Edwards. I like "how" and "why" questions for these reasons too but also because they are trauma-informed. They encourage the respondent to answer in a way that allows her to both share her story on her own terms.

Here are a few sample ways to ask about sleep --------->

The answers to sleep questions help you consider physical or emotional challenges. Is the client going through menopause or struggling with the loss of a parent? Or perhaps she is now coming to terms with her history as a rape survivor? Sexual abuse survivors typically have less quality sleep than non-survivors. They are more likely to sleep fewer hours, struggle with falling asleep and have disrupted sleep.

Sleep questions give you opportunities to create trust between you and your patient. They are non-medical questions that enable the provider to share power by allowing the client to be the expert. How many of us ever feel that way when we see a provider? Sleep questions also ask for an opinion. Asking for an opinion allows you to pivot from all-knowing provider to interested learner. Each of these small changes build trust.

Quality and quantity of sleep are important to consider when looking at health. We all sleep. We all eat too but asking someone you don't know about their eating habits can be tricky. And not only if they have struggled with disordered eating in the past! But asking about sleep is different; it's a conversation starter. Sleep questions provide useful background and help you understand how a patient thinks of herself. So get those bedroom confessions going! Ask about sleep.