Sleep restriction therapy helped me a lot. In fact, even without the other insomnia treatments usually offered with it, sleep restriction alone (enhanced by daily exercise) would probably have turned my chronic insomnia around.
Sleep researchers at Oxford recently proposed a new model of how the therapy works. If you haven’t yet tried sleep restriction, here’s why you’ll want to check it out.
“I have 5 years of anxiety about not being able to sleep to overcome,” began a query I received a month ago. “Once triggered, it is difficult to stop this downward spiral and sleep.”
Without a doubt, anxiety about sleep is one of the hardest aspects of insomnia to beat. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can help to reduce sleep-related anxiety, as can other adjunctive therapies. But here’s an alternative treatment that might lead to calmer nights: plant-based medicines found to be effective for anxiety.
I don’t often write about technology developed to improve sleep. I’m frankly skeptical that most products could help me any more than the daily exercise I do and the habits I changed after going through CBT for insomnia.
But a few items have caught my attention recently because they sound like they have genuine potential to help—two I’ve blogged about before and one brand new. See if you agree.
What does falling asleep feel like? Good sleepers may never bother with the question. One minute they’re conscious and the next minute they’re out. But if you have chronic insomnia, falling asleep (or back to sleep) can feel like a tiresome slog.
Insomnia sufferers may actually lose touch with the feeling of falling asleep. So Sleep Technologist Michael Schwartz created a smartphone app to put people back in touch and increase their confidence and ease in falling asleep.
These days people are worried about jobs, health care, the environment, the possibility of worldwide war. Uncertainty about the future, and fear of negative outcomes, may rob even reliable sleepers of sleep from time to time.
But for many insomnia sufferers, worry and anxiety about sleep itself—“It’s two o’clock and I haven’t slept a wink!”; “If I don’t get to sleep now I’ll get sick!”—is an equally powerful enemy of sleep.
Here’s more about worry and insomnia and how to keep them from spoiling the night.
Here’s a complaint I often hear from insomniacs going through sleep restriction therapy: it’s hard to stay awake until bedtime. A related frustration comes with suddenly having extra time on your hands.
“I don’t know what to do with myself till 2:30 in the morning!” an insomnia sufferer groused to me.
Here are variations on 11 activities aimed at keeping you awake until the clock says it’s time to head to bed.
Observing the rules of good sleep hygiene may not work as a standalone treatment for insomnia. But now that I’ve learned to manage my insomnia, I follow most of the rules because they help me maintain sounder, more regular sleep.
Some are especially helpful in preventing backsliding. They may help you, too.
Anxiety about sleep is a problem for some insomnia sufferers. Fear of sleeplessness is the main thing keeping them awake at night.
Here’s how sleep anxiety develops and how to tone it down.