We have all heard the expression “sleeping like a baby” but how often do we actually do that now we’re not babies? Not very often I would guess; we don’t sleep like logs either – in fact as we get older we wake more often in the night and this is normal. Most of us will know about sleep hygiene e.g. sleeping in a dark room (with our mobile phone/tablet switched off), making sure we’re not too hot or too cold, having a regular bedtime routine and not drinking too much caffeine or alcohol before bed; but that alone does not always work if we’re having sleep problems.
As part of my work with the University of Warwick I have been learning about sleep restriction therapy (SRT) which should really be called bed restriction therapy! The aim is to improve the quality of sleep rather than the quantity by allowing the participant to only stay in their bed for the time that they normally sleep for (which is worked out from sleep diaries); so that they go to bed and get up at the same time every day, they don’t have daytime naps and they only turn their lights out when feeling sleepy. Then if they wake in the night for more than 20 minutes they have to get up and do something boring until they feel sleepy again. I have heard that this works with the majority of people who have sleep problems and I am looking forward to working with the participants on this.