In summary, Sleep Restriction Therapy is “sleeping more by trying to sleep less.” The counterintuitive therapy is indeed an effective way to combat insomnia and has been around for some time.
What is Sleep Restriction Therapy?
Sleep Restriction Therapy was first introduced by renowned sleep researcher Arthur in 1987. It’s performed well in many clinical trials and become a core component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia (CBTi). CBTi is a goal-oriented, drug-free approach to treating insomnia that surfaced in the ‘60s and has been recommended by very important medical authorities as a first-line defense against against clinical-grade sleeplessness.
How does it work?
Sleep Restriction Therapy is intended for treating middle-of-the-night insomnia – when you spend a lot more time in bed than you spend sleeping. The therapy works by restricting the amount of time you spend in bed.
For example, let’s say you normally get into bed at 10:00pm and get out at 7:00am. However, you only get six hours of sleep because you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back asleep. Using Sleep Restriction Therapy, you’d either wake up earlier or go to bed earlier so that you’re only spending six hours in bed, total.
Within a week or so, you should start to experience fewer, shorter late-night awakenings. Once the awakenings are under control, you can start to extend the amount of time you spend in bed by weekly increments of 15-30 minutes, so long as the awakenings remain at bay. The goal is to stay asleep for at least 85% of the total time you spend in bed by increasing or decreasing the time you spend in bed accordingly. You should expect to practice sleep restriction for a few weeks, until you’ve conditioned your body to spending a full 8 hours in bed and being asleep the whole time.