What is sleep restriction therapy?

What is sleep restriction therapy?

Sleep restriction therapy is one of the most powerful tools in sleep psychology and has been extensively researched. People with insomnia often find it counterintuitive that you have to try to stay awake in order to get better sleep, but this is fundamental psychology at work. You’re so sleepy by the time you hit the pillow that you immediately fall into a deep, restorative sleep. In time, your mind starts forming a strong, permanent association between your bed and quickly falling into a restorative sleep. This association will benefit your sleep for the rest of your life.

The way sleep restriction works is by narrowing your sleep window at the beginning of treatment to increase sleep efficiency, or the ratio of time asleep to time-in-bed. Your sleep window is then gradually adjusted in each subsequent session so that you would be able to achieve your sleep goals eventually. There are techniques used by sleep clinics to calibrate your time-in-bed on a regular basis, using your past sleep data and combining it with results from a sleep questionnaire.
Sleep restriction may cause daytime sleepiness until sleep has been regulated. In general, sleep restriction is safe for most people. But it is not recommended if you have:
  1. Bipolar disorder
  2. Epilepsy
  3. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea.
Anyone in a profession where they need to be alert or cautious to avoid serious accidents (e.g. air traffic controllers, operators of heavy machinery, long-haul truck drivers) should also consult with their health care provider before starting the program.

    • Related Articles

    • Sleep Restriction Therapy (SRT) - Frequently Asked Questions

      INTRODUCTION: Sleep Restriction Therapy is a powerful technique from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). It is a technique to help your mind associate going to bed with falling asleep (and staying asleep). In this article, we will ...
    • How does sleep restriction work with daylight saving time?

      Navigating daylight saving time is tricky, and especially so for insomnia patients undergoing sleep restriction therapy. The general recommendation is to keep to your assigned sleep schedule, even with the change in daylight saving time. That means ...
    • What should I do if I experience disruptions in the middle of my sleep restriction program?

      Sometimes you might experience inevitable disruptions in the middle of your sleep restriction program. For example, you might fall sick, or you might have upcoming travel plans. Our first advice is for you to wait and only start your sleep ...
    • Is Stellar Sleep HSA/FSA Eligible?

      We are excited to announce that Stellar Sleep, the award-winning mobile app for insomnia, developed in collaboration with top sleep psychologists, therapists, and researchers from Harvard, is now eligible for payment through Health Savings Accounts ...
    • What is Stellar Sleep?

      Stellar Sleep is a mobile app available on both iOS and Android that employs a scientifically-supported method, cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), to improve sleep permanently. CBT-I is the #1 physician-recommended treatment for ...