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Advice to Insomniacs: Sleep Less

Nothing is worse than tossing and turning, night after night. When sleep eludes you repeatedly, it might be best to cut down on your time in bed and reduce your hours of sleep – essentially putting yourself on a sleep diet might be the answer for a good night's sleep. Chronic insomniacs can gain more effective and deeper sleep by limiting time spent in bed; and it helps to reinforce positive associations with bed rather than lack of sleep. Beds should be used only for sleep and sex, not reading or clock watching.

To create consecutive hours of actual sleep, an insomniac looking to rehab her sleep patterns should try to get five to six hours of continuous sleep and have a strict wake up time of 7 a.m. This means forcing your self to stay awake until one or two in the morning and getting up when the alarm clock wakes you. Once the allotted hours are full of quality sleep, you begin to slowly add in more bed time in quarter hour increments, building up to seven to eight hours of sleep.

Cutting back on time in bed can really improve both the quality and quantity of sleep. And if you've ever experienced serious insomnia, a sleep diet might not sound so crazy to you.


Join The Conversation
carhornsinapril carhornsinapril 9 years
i've been awake all night... i should try this. unfortunately, my fiance and i live in our bed! i think for me, i don't sleep well when i haven't been exercising as much, and when i'm overdue for the chiropractor. when i'm having neck stiffness/pain, i'm guaranteed to toss and turn for hours.
julieulie julieulie 9 years
This really makes a lot of sense. I am incapable of sleeping more than 2-3 hours/night, but I generally try to give myself a full 8 hours to "rest" in bed. Nights when I'm busy and I have more to do and I wind up pulling practically all-nighters and only have 3 hours to sleep, I actually feel a lot better than nights when I lay in bed for 8 hours -- I guess because I'm tired enough that I actually get decent sleep during those 3 hours.
Puzzle2397 Puzzle2397 9 years
sweetrae80 - I definitely know how you feel. I have insomnia, which I'm pretty sure is at least influenced by my thyroid problems. I always, without fail, wake up at least twice during the night. It is soooooo freaking annoying. Sometimes it takes me a while to go back to sleep, which is even more annoying. I've definitely used this technique before, and I'm sure I will again.
sweetrae80 sweetrae80 9 years
i have kind of tried this-if you tire yourself out and don't try too hard to sleep it's easier. i still wake up randomly throughout the night some nights-i still get enough sleep but sometimes i don't fall right back to sleep and it's so annoying.
emalove emalove 9 years
I should have tried this five years ago when I had a horrible time falling asleep each night...
kia kia 9 years
I've made a serious effort to avoid insomnia after the heart health and sleep studies began to become more common knowledge. This is a good idea and I hope it works for those really suffering. Personally I head towards a weak valerian root tea brew if I am too stressed to sleep.
imLissy imLissy 9 years
I used to have so much trouble falling asleep, then all of a sudden like two years ago, poof, my head hits the pillow and I'm out. The weird thing is I was super stressed when it happened, so I was expecting the opposite. I guess all that stressing out made me sleepy!
latent latent 9 years
Man I wish this worked.
Tullia Tullia 9 years
I hate it when it takes forever to make my brain shut down and go to sleep! I should try this.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
Something I might have to try. I haven't been sleeping well lately and I can't figure out why. I've tried reducing my calories, increasing exercise, and cutting back on caffiene... but for some reason I'm still awake for 2 hours randomly in bed.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Interesting concept...
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