Cure for insomnia: The secret to better sleep may be staying awake

Sleep restriction therapy hasn't properly taken off, but that might be because it sounds so counterintuitive

Alexander Sehmer
Thursday 22 October 2015 10:52 BST
Insomnia is said to affect about one in three people in the UK
Insomnia is said to affect about one in three people in the UK (Rex Features)

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Louise Thomas

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Cutting back on sleep may help tackle insomnia, according to sleep experts.

Insomnia is said to affect about one in three people in the UK and deliberately restricting the amount of sleep to the hours you are capable of sleeping is seen by many experts as one of the most effective ways to treat it.

But sleep restriction therapy hasn't properly taken off, and that might be in part because it sounds so counterintuitive.

In essence, the technique requires you to make a note of how many hours of sleep you typically get - perhaps it's just five hours.

Set a time when you get up - for many that will be the time they usually go to work - and unfailingly stick to it.

Then only go to bed five hours before that time.

If you successfully sleep for those five hours then gradually move the window backwards in 15 minute intervals until you're getting seven or eight full hours per night.

Sounds easy enough? Those who have tried the technique report it takes a great deal more willpower than might be thought.

They report being irritable and bleary-eyed, but the technique has been shown to be effective and avoids the drowsiness associated with sleep medication.

Sleep restriction is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a therapy used to help manage anxiety, depression and other psychological conditions.

It is advisable to seek professional advice before launching into your own sleep deprivation plan.

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