Ok, so if you’ve tried everything I suggested so far on improving your sleep and you still cannot sleep, we have one more thing to talk about. This next aspect of CBT-I has been found to be the most effective tool in knocking out insomnia. Basically it has to do with how much time we spend in bed.
This aspect of CBT-I asks that you think about how long you used to sleep before developing insomnia. Then, you think about what time you want to wake up in the morning. Remember, we want a consistent wake time, so think about what time you want to wake up on most days.
If you want to wake up at 7am, and you used to sleep about 6 hours before your insomnia, then you would go to bed around 1am. This exercise of reducing the amount of time you spend in your bed makes it so that when you are in bed you are getting deeper, better quality sleep. Many research studies have found that decreasing time in bed leads to a quicker time to fall asleep, deeper sleep, and less wakening during the night. This is major stuff!
So what is the catch, right? Well the catch is, it is not easy to do it. What you may find is you have a really hard time staying awake until your prescribed sleep time. I encourage you, however, try to stay awake until your sleep time. This sleep time, again, is based on the time you want to wake up minus how many hours you used to sleep regularly. What you will find is that if you can stay awake until that time you will fall asleep more quickly and into a deeper more restorative sleep. And, your insomnia will be gone! After a few nights of this, and getting more sound sleep, you can start to gradually move your bedtime back to an earlier time. If the insomnia returns, stay up later again until you are sleeping more soundly once more.
So I hope you enjoyed my series on insomnia. If you have more questions about insomnia let me know in the comments! Until next time… Dr. B
Perl, J. (1993). Sleep Right in Five Nights: A clear and effective guide for conquering insomnia. New York, NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
Danforth, M. (2018). Treating Insomnia: Evidence-based strategies to help your clients sleep. Presentation, New Jersey.