If you’re having trouble sleeping, Graham Price’s tips will help you defeat insomnia
Most non-serious cases of insomnia can be resolved using the standard means listed below:
- A dark, quiet bedroom and comfortable bed, mattress, and pillow.
- A warm bed in winter.
- Avoiding naps during the day.
- No coffee in the afternoon or evening.
- Minimal coffee and alcohol during the rest of the day.
- No alcohol or nicotine in the evening
- No food or exercise for three hours before going to bed.
- Turning off your phone when in bed.
- No visible clock, to avoid checking the time you’ve been awake.
Most people will be able to get a good night’s sleep by following these rules; they are proven to make a difference with most non-serious cases of insomnia.
However, if you suffer from significant, and repeated, lack of sleep and have tried, and failed, to resolve it through standard means, this article recommends two additional tools that can be tried in more serious cases of insomnia.
1. Get Up
The first method is a response to lying awake for extended periods. If you find this has become a pattern for you, you need to take more significant action. I recommend you get out of bed, if you’ve been lying awake for an hour or more, and do other things, such as chores in your home, or sitting in a chair and reading. When you become sleepy, go back to bed. The intent is, you’ll then fall asleep quickly.
2. Sleep Restructuring
If this first method doesn’t work, you can try sleep restructuring, also known as ‘sleep deprivation’.
First, determine at what time you wish to wake in the morning. An alarm must be set for that time. This can be varied, for example between weekdays and weekends. You then need to determine how much total sleep time has been achieved over say the last month on a typical, i.e. average, night. This total is then deducted from the desired wake-up time. That gives you the time when you initially need to go to bed.
At first, it would be expected that you’ll gain even less sleep than the typical, i.e. average, amount of sleep you’ve recently been achieving. But over a short time, you’d be expected to go to sleep quite quickly and sleep solidly until you awake or are awakened by your alarm. You should continue to apply the process until this is achieved.
If the typical, i.e. average, total time you’ve slept over say the past month is five hours and you wish to awaken at 7.00am, you must go to bed at 2.00am and be awakened by your alarm at 7.00am. Continue this process until you find yourself going to sleep quickly, remaining asleep during the night, and being awakened by your alarm, at 7.00am. Get up at 7.00am. It’s important that you don’t remain in bed to try to grab a bit more sleep. It’s also important to remain awake until the designated time that you’re due to go to bed.
Once this pattern is established, add 15 minutes to the time you spend in bed by going to bed 15 minutes earlier. Continue this timing until you’re routinely achieving 15 minutes more continuous sleep per night. When this has become the norm, add another 15 minutes by going to bed another 15 minutes earlier. Continue this routine until you’re achieving your target amount of sleep, for example 7 hours per night.
That is the goal of sleep restructuring. It will initially seem quite harsh. But it’s necessary to break the pattern of irregular sleep, or of lying awake for extended periods. In most cases, the goal is achieved. In others it may be 90% achieved.
One of these additional tools can be used to turn insomnia around and achieve a normal night’s sleep.