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- July 21, 2019 at 8:54 pm #30889
wsh✘ Not a client
By way of perhaps a helpful tip, I have been doing the sleep restriction thing for 4 weeks now. Last week was my most consistent week of sleep for many months and I averaged 6.5 hours sleep and 90% sleep efficiency. There were no nights where I got less than 6 hours sleep. Before I started this, I was having a lot of problems with sleep onset with 1-2 nights per week of 0-2 hours of sleep. My head would hit the pillow, and racing thoughts, heart palpitations just would not let me sleep. Anyway, two things I have found super helpful. Firstly, a much later bedtime. I now stay up until 11.30 PM before I go to bed. I am very tired by this time. The problem here though for me is (due to the sleep restriction) I am getting tired from about 8.30 PM. If I watch TV or read, I am fighting micro sleeps for about 3 hours. Having just fought AGAINST sleep for 3 hours, I think my poor brain is then confused about changing tack and fighting FOR sleep when in bed. So I have found it very helpful to go for a long (4.5 km) brisk walk at about 9.30 PM. No matter if its cold or raining, this keeps me awake and stops having to fight the pre-bed micro sleeps. From about 10.30-11.30 PM I might then do a 30 minute relaxation exercise as well (one of the Dartmouth college ones). I then seem to fall asleep in bed in 5 minutes.
Anyway, for me it is still too early to call the battle won, and I fully expect some relapsing, however for now this approach looks very encouraging. I have not had a very poor night of little to no sleep (0-2 hours) for about a month now.August 7, 2019 at 12:22 am #31280
Martin Reed★ Admin
Thank you for sharing! I am glad to hear that you are implementing sleep restriction techniques consistently and getting positive results!
It’s also quite common in the short-term to find that once you get past this period of sleepiness, you no longer feel sleepy when you get into bed. This is usually because of conditioned arousal — because you have experienced wakefulness so many times when you are in bed, your mind has learned that the bed is a place to be awake rather than asleep.
So, you can feel very sleepy before going to bed but then feel awake when you get into bed. Stimulus control techniques help to address this conditioned arousal.
Here’s a short video about this: What to do when you feel sleepy early in the evening but don’t feel sleepy when it’s time for bed.
Thank you for sharing your strategy of going for a walk while waiting for your sleep window to begin — that is a great idea!
Relaxation techniques such as those offered by Dartmouth College are a great way to relax, too — just remember that the goal of relaxation is relaxation, not sleep (and that relaxation is actually a skill that requires a lot of practice!).