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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Sleep Restriction Therapy

This page abstract: What is sleep restriction therapy?

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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Sleep Restriction Therapy

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Written by: Martin Winkler
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 28 Aug 2008.

What is sleep restriction therapy?

Answer:

One possible treatment option for insomnia seems to be paradox: You should try to restrict you sleeping time! This can help to reduce the time you spend awake in your bed and all the worrying about the problems to fall asleep. Restriction of sleep will cause you to become tired again and to establish new routines to fall asleep.

Usually one starts sleep restriction therapy at first with only a very short period of sleep during the night. Then this time will increase until a normal sleeping time is achieved.

To start this kind of treatment you have to stick to a strict regime and stay awake even if you feel sleepy or have problems to spend the time in the late evening. If you start with a sleeping time of 4 hours you would have to stay up until 2 or 3 am if you decide to go up at 6 or 7 in the morning. And this not only for normal working days but also weekend or public holidays. If you find sleep for this short period you can increase the sleeping time by 15 or 30 min until you finally reach a normal sleeping time according to your personal needs.

  • Don't go to bed until you feel sleepy, even if this is later than your normal bedtime.
  • Set your alarm clock to wake you about 6.30 am, even if this means you only get a few hours sleep for the first few nights.
  • If you don't fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up until you feel sleepy again.
  • Avoid napping during the day, so that you are very tired at night.
  • As your sleep improves gradually go to bed earlier and continue to get up early so you get a full night's sleep and establish a regular routine.
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