A recent article outlined new research suggesting that trying to get less sleep will actually help you get more.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but Sleep Restriction Therapy (SRT) aims to help you break the connection you can build up between being in bed, lying awake and failing to get to sleep. The harder you try, the less successful you are.
The basics of SRT are:
1. Choose a time to get up in the morning and stick to it. For example, 7am.
2. Over the next week, work out how much sleep you actually get each night on average. Keeping a sleep diary can help (see here for an example). You may find that although you spend 8 hours in bed each night, you actually get 5 hours sleep.
3. Then, the aim is to stay out of your bedroom until 5 hours before you are due to get up (in the example this would mean going to bed at 2am). Then go to bed and sleep for 5 hours.
4. Keep doing this for a week. You are likely to feel pretty tired but you will find the quality of your 5 hours sleep improves and sleeping becomes easier. Then you can gradually bring your going to bed time forward and start to increase the amount of sleep you’re getting.
5. This is because you are breaking the association between bed and battling to get to sleep. Instead, you are building a new association for body and mind that bed = sleep.
NB: speak to your GP before trying SRT if you are taking any medication.
Good luck. If SRT seems too challenging for you, try these sleep tips at http://westendcounselling.co.uk/cbt/sleep-tips/