There are several ways to fight insomnia. Struggling to sleep seems to be a growing problem and many of my clients struggle to get a good night’s sleep. Some try sleeping tablets such as Zopiclone but the danger of these is that they can become addictive, adding to the problem in the long run.
The anxiety of knowing we need to get a good night’s sleep in order to function properly the next day adds to our woes and this can make it even harder to fall asleep.
You can fight insomnia by creating a sleep schedule – this induces a temporary phase of mild sleep deprivation :
For a week, keep a list of the times you go to bed and the approximate times you actually sleep.
Say, you go to bed at 11pm but only fall asleep at 1am and then wake up at 7am. You have been in bed in bed 8 hours but only slept for 6 hours. Work out an average of how many hours you are actually sleeping and use this figure to create your sleep schedule. Add the hours together and divide by seven then times by 100 to get a percentage. (see worksheet below).
On average, many people find they are often only getting around 6 hours sleep. So, for one week, they must force themselves to sleep 6 hours only per night. This is a gruelling process and you will feel sleep deprived so it can only be done when you do not have too many demands placed upon you.
Sleep restriction helps to increase your drive for sleep, improve depth and continuity of sleep as well as synchronise the sleep cycles. The main aim of sleep restriction is to create a state of mild sleep deprivation.
For a 6 hour sleep schedule, go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 6am. If you do not feel tired at midnight, do not go to bed until you feel ready to sleep. In the morning, you must get up at 6am. This takes self discipline but this process retrains the brain to associate bed with sleep – the psychological principles of classical conditioning.
Only use the bedroom for sex and sleep.
If you are in bed for longer than 20 minutes without falling asleep, get out of bed and do something non stimulating until you feel tired. Read a book or get a drink.
Make your bedroom a calm place associated mainly with sleeping. Keep a regular sleep schedule, try to go to bed and wake up at similar times.
Learn to relax before bed rather than creating anxiety about whether or not you will sleep. Be open to what the night holds rather than anticipating problems. This state of panic will make it harder to sleep.
If the sleep schedule seems too hard core for you – at least try to have a regular sleep routine, keep the bedroom a calm place and get out of bed of you have been struggling to sleep for longer than 20 minutes.
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