Sleep restriction

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by Martin Reed 5 months, 2 weeks ago.

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #27298

    ✘ Not a client

    Hi all,

    into my 5th week of SRT now and while things improved fast at the beginning the last 3 nights have been poorly with only 3-4 hours and terrible sleep anxiety.

    @deb love to read your story about SRT, sounds very similar to mine. Did you also had that lack of confidence all of the sudden? I’m back again to that really fearful moment when putting of the lights and not being able to sleep immediately, when the anxiety kicks in and everything I can think about is sleep. And of course, sleep won’t come.


    ✓ Client

    Yes things improved very quickly for me from the beginning. For the first 4 weeks, 5 out of 7 days I fell asleep right away for the most part. But I always felt uncomfortable about the other 2 days, like I was just barely escaping the sleep demons the other 5 days. When I didn’t fall asleep right away, I could be up for hours. So I started using alcohol like sleeping pills to help me fall asleep right away. Now I’m trying to get away from that and the last 3 days I’ve been up quite a bit.

    I’ve had my ups and downs as far as confidence goes. I hope this latest spell doesn’t take away my confidence.


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    @madamedestel — Can you tell us a bit more about your sleep restriction ‘prescription’? What is your current sleep window and how many hours of sleep are you getting?


    ✘ Not a client

    Hi Martin,

    thanks for asking.

    After starting with 5.5 hours (12-5.30) and things improving quickly, I’m now at 6.20 (11.40-6).

    Sleep pressure is still high – I have to force myself from not napping at the couch every evening.

    Going through my sleep diary I can see that the last 2 weeks were pretty good with 4-5 good nights in a row. But I still have bad nights where I’m not able to fall asleep quickly and my biggest struggle still is getting out of bed when not being able to sleep. During those nights I often only manage to fall asleep very late – interestingly I even wake up before the alarm clock – hyperactive mind 🙁 I guess.

    I do believe that SC is absolutely necessary and that body and mind respond very strongly of learned “bad” behavior – like lying in bed and getting more and more awake as a trained concept. But for me its the most challenging part.

    I also still struggle with confidence which is good after having good nights but can shift so much when I have one or even two bad nights in a row.

    Luckily I don’t have allnighters anymore and gained back the confidence that my body is able to sleep – sometimes its just thoughts sabotaging me.

    I would like to hear back from others how long it took the program for them to “get over” insomnia – its hard for me to be patient.




    ✘ Not a client


    I’ve been doing CBT-I for 4 months now and although it helps keep me on track with regards to condensed sleep, regular wake up and bedtime, it hasn’t been a cure or magic bullet. I get good stretches for a few days/weeks and then seem to relapse. When that happens, anxiety kicks in and things seem to reset. I don’t see another option other than doing what I’ve been doing and things slowly get back on track.


    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    Great to hear that you aren’t experiencing all-nighters anymore — that’s a great achievement and evidence that you are making progress!

    So your current sleep window is 11.40 PM to 6 AM (am I right)? You mentioned that you regularly find it hard to stay awake until your sleep window begins. Is this still the case on nights when you find it hard to fall asleep? In other words, do you feel really sleepy before the sleep window begins but when you get into bed you suddenly feel awake and alert?

    A couple more questions for you:

    1. Are you combining ‘sleep restriction’ with stimulus control?

    2. Are you more of an evening person (night owl) or are you more of a morning person (a lark)?


    ✘ Not a client

    Thanks for asking and yes, I feel really sleepy before going to bed – the anxiety kicks right in when I put off the light. Its kind of a really weird (learned) connection between bed and “performance” pressure of falling asleep.

    I think dealing with the anxiety is really another problem – which cannot be cured by SC or SR. In a way its a thing everyone has to find their own way to deal with, my therapist gave me ideas what to do – but one has to find its own safety net (or thought).

    Unfortunately I have just started to go out of bed when unable to sleep – I spent too many nights awake in bed so that I developed that negative connection between being awake and bed. But I do this now and it feels much better because it is something I can control – breaking out of that vicious cycle.

    Definitely a lark – therefore so hard for me to stay up long.




    Martin Reed
    ★ Admin

    If you are a morning lark it’s little surprise that you are finding it hard to stay awake until the start of your sleep window. You may want to discuss advancing the sleep window with your therapist while retaining an appropriate duration. So, instead of 11.40 PM to 6 AM you try 10.40 PM to 5 AM (as an example).

    In your last post, you described conditioned arousal to a tee — and this is very common among people with chronic insomnia. In effect, you have learned that the bed is a place for worry and wakefulness rather than relaxation and sleep. So, when you get in bed you feel anxiety rather than relaxation.

    Before you had insomnia, you did not have this association. The association was learned, so it can be ‘unlearned’ — and this is done by using the bed for sleep and nothing else. So, when you aren’t asleep you get out of bed.

    If your anxiety is related to sleep and the bed, then getting out of bed when you are awake will actually help alleviate this anxiety over time — because it will retrain your mind to associate the bed with nothing but sleep. However, it does take time and consistent implementation of stimulus control techniques — and this certainly is not easy, especially for the first couple of weeks.

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