Can’t sleep? Try getting less
August 28th, 2015
Can’t sleep? Try getting less
‘By reducing your “sleep window”, you’re raising the stakes, giving your powers of sleep a real challenge, which brings out the best in them’
Recently, I decided to try to deal with a bout of insomnia by deliberately getting even less sleep. If this strikes you as absurd, I can only reply that it’s no more absurd than what most insomniacs do instead: lie awake in bed for hours every night, getting more wakeful the harder they try to drop off, while ruminating on horrifying existential truths.
Besides, “sleep restriction therapy” (SRT), as it’s known, is growing in popularity; some evidence suggests it’s as effective as pills.
ちなみに、私はsleep restriction therapyを勝手にsleep dep rivation therapyと呼んでいますよ・・・
When you’re sleeping poorly, your instinct is to spend more time in bed, to catch up. To which Sleep Restrictio n Therapy arches an eyebrow and enquires: “Oh yes? And how’s that working out for you?”
Seek expert advice before deliberately depriving yourself of sleep, but the basics of SRT are simple.
First, pick a fixed getting-up time – let’s say 7am – and enforce it like a fascist.
Second, over a week or two, work out how much sleep you really get per night, on average. Say five hours.
Now the hard part: your job is to stay out of your bedroom, and awake, until five hours before your rising time – 5 hours before 7am is 2am!!. If five hours is all the sleep you get, five hours is all you’ll have.
(Don’t go below 4.5h. As things improve, you’ll gradually extend time in bed: see here.)
If my experience is anything to go by, you’ll be bleary and irritated as you struggle to stay up – and, at first, exhausted during the day. But you’ll also start sleeping remarkably deeply.
Partly, what’s happening is a breaking of the subconscious link between being in bed and miserably awake.
But it’s also training your body to sleep more deeply
So it figures that by reducing your “sleep window”, you’re raising the stakes, giving your powers of sleep a real challenge, which brings out the best in them. You’ll be so tired that you can’t not sleep! (By contrast, responding to insomnia by increasing time in bed lowers the stakes: it becomes less important that you’re asleep for any given hour you’re trying.)
And not just sleep: if you want to do your best at some work project, try giving yourself only a few hours – as any journalist (or student!) faced with a deadline knows. When things absolutely have to get done, they have a curious way of getting done.
Hey Simon what do you think? 私に一コメントいわせていただければ・・・
I’ve done this – in fact this is kind of my life…
I’ve had bouts of insomnia throughout my life, and I have had nights where I have only had 1 hour or even no sleep at all (in my experience, no sleep is actually better than only 1 or 2 hours)
Nowadays I stay on a pretty strict sleep schedule: I get up at 4 (I like getting up at 4 – the house is quiet, I can get on with my podcast, and it means I can go to bed around 1030pm instead of staying up til 2 watching netflix every night…)
However I find my sleep falls apart if I get too much sleep – between 5 and 6 hours seems to be best, more than 6.5 and I start to feel bad. This year I got off my schedule over Golden Week and I am just now fixing it with sleep deprivation therapy again….
It is hard tho: the hardest part for me is staying awake late at night, sometimes I have to go out for a walk because I just can’t stay awake otherwise – I call this my “zombie walk” because I’m pretty much falling asleep as I walk…
I have no idea why my sleep is so sensitive: I don’t feel unduly stressed or anything. But I’ve pretty much admitted that this seems like a permanent problem. So long as I stick to a short sleep schedule (6 hours or less) I feel pretty good, but if I sleep any longer than 6. 5 I start to feel really bad and or start waking up in the night.
Hey Listeners what do you think? どうぞ自分の”一コメント”をメールで読ませてください
Do you ever get insomnia?
How do you cope?
Have you ever tried sleeping less?
If you give it a try, do please write and let me know!
参考のリンク Related Links
Music by Kajiki
Sound Effects: https://freesound.org/people/tensaimon/bookmarks/
SNS: tensaimon (instagram: kusaimon)