You’ve heard it said before: insomniacs typically overestimate how long it takes to fall asleep and underestimate the amount of sleep we get. Time and again, sleep experts ask us to estimate our sleep time. Then they conduct overnight sleep studies with polysomnography (PSG) and find, on average, that we fall asleep faster and sleep longer than we think.
Are insomniacs just unreliable when it comes to estimating time? What else might account for this discrepancy? Should we be reassured that we’re probably sleeping more than we think?
Would you wear a cap at night if it helped you fall asleep faster?
You may soon have the opportunity: the cap, a medical device for the treatment of insomnia, has received approval from the FDA, clearing the way for it to come to market.
A reader—I’ll call her Chantal—wrote in June with questions about insomnia and sleep restriction. A few weeks ago I heard from her again:
I’m now in week 6 of sleep restriction and I have to say my sleep is getting better. I mostly sleep for 5.5 hours a night. When I started it was 3.
My sleep window starts between 11 and 12 and ends at 6. I was having trouble staying awake until midnight, and by allowing myself to go to bed at 11 (or soon after that) I can fall asleep faster.
But the last couple of nights, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and had trouble falling back to sleep. I have no idea why I’m waking up. Do you have any tips for staying asleep?