After you have an experience a few times in therapy with different patients, you can start to talk about "isolating a mechanism of the mind."
I've had the experience of working on a "trauma" with people using EMDR, in which they begin to start "shutting down" their feelings. During this time I've noticed a counter-transference in which I get sleepy and want to lose consciousness, and that when their feelings are gone, I don't feel tired any more.
Of course it's important to talk about the economics of libido and how these patients are altruists, but it's also possible that this is a primitive egoistic part at work in them.
... it's surprising to me that I've never heard the combination of repression with sleep before. It seems very intuitive because sleep involves the loss of regular consciousness.