Last updated on November 22nd, 2016

This may sound like bad advice, but lying awake in bed ( aka sleep maintenance insomnia) can actually make your sleep problems worse.

Professor Richard R. Bootzin of the University of Arizona Sleep Lab has studied different psychological approaches used to treat insomnia. One of the most successful is called stimulus control therapy. This involves getting yourself out of bed and out of the bedroom when you can’t sleep.

The reason this works is because when you stay in bed forcing yourself to try and sleep, you begin to associate bed with growing frustration and sleeplessness. Stimulus control therapy works by gradually breaking down negative associations between your sleeping environment and your wakeful state.

Another popular insomnia treatment, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) also endorses this approach. A recent study recommended several behavioural techniques for improving sleep. These included:

  • reducing the amount of time spent in bed
  • getting up at the same time every day, regardless of the amount of sleep
  • going to bed only when sleepy
  • getting out of bed if not asleep

Here’s our step by step guide

1) If you can’t fall asleep, get up and go into another room

2) Keep the lights dim and do some relaxing activity like reading or listening to soft music

3) Stay up as long as you wish until you feel sleepy, then return to your bed

4) If you are awake for more than 10 minutes, go back to step 1 and repeat the process

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