Sleep Restriction is a therapy used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia to improve the symptoms of insomnia using behaviour modification by limiting time in bed.
It’s not for everyone and can make sleep a whole lot worse.
Usually determined after thorough consultation with a sleep therapist, there is a trend for an inappropriate recommendation for going to bed later. The intention is that you feel more tired and sleep better, but choosing an indiscriminate time isn’t how this therapy works.
One of our clients described his sleep…
“My GP has recommended this type of sleep restriction… so I go to bed at 11pm every night when I reallly want to go at 9pm. I feel so tired and struggle to keep to the later time schedule. It makes me feel stressed and actually hasn’t made any difference to falling asleep faster. I still take at least two hours and then feel like I’m lightly sleeping for a couple of hours and then wide awake at 3am. I either lie in bed awake or get up…this is how my sleep looks and it’s terrible.”
Sleep restriction therapy can be really tough!
You already feel exhausted, anxious, and worried about not getting enough sleep, and reducing your time in bed isn’t going to be easy.
This is what you may experience…
- Increased sleep deprivation and fatigue, irritability, and poor concentration.
- Increased sleep anxiety, frustration, and emotional instability.
- Increased stress can negatively impact physical and mental health.
- Difficulty with the management of daily activities related to work, home, and family life.
- Increased risk of accidents while driving or using machinery.
Potential side effects and dangers need to be considered before following this sleep therapy and should only be attempted under the supervision of a sleep professional trained in CBTi and sleep restriction, to ensure you are being monitored and supported throughout the duration.
Deb Herdman, sleep practitioner and founder at Nigh Nigh is trained in CBTi and talks about sleep restriction…
“This is one therapy amongst a host of others that can change insomnia completely around. Even those folks that have suffered from decades of poor sleep can be achieving their sleep goals within a month. We always ask our clients to tell us what good sleep would look like for them or their children. Invariably their response is to fall asleep easily and get good sleep throughout the night.”
Even good sleepers have bad nights but once you learn solutions your mindset changes…you really can learn to sleep well.