INSOMNIA: Less can be more

Insomnia affects many people at some point in their lives and can be both debilitating and disruptive. It affects people of all ages and is common in the elderly.

A recent study into insomnia came up with the recommendation that spending less time in bed is an effective way to prevent the condition. More specifically, it found that the way to tackle insomnia is to avoid increasing sleep opportunity – instead, it should be decreased to match sleep ability.

The study found that the participants who developed acute insomnia and recovered from it reduced the amount of time they spent in bed, whereas the participants who went on to develop chronic insomnia increased it.

For example, if they fell asleep at 11 p.m. and intended to get up at 7:30 a.m. but found themselves awake at 5:30 a.m., then they would get up anyway and start their day, rather than lie awake in bed.

The study went on to say that chronic sufferers tended to go to bed early, got out of bed late, and then also napped. While this seems a logical approach to the condition, and may well help in the short-term, in the longer term is it effectively creates a mismatch between an individual’s sleep ability (i.e. how much sleep they are capable of getting) and their sleep opportunity (i.e. the amount of time they are attempting to sleep). And, apparently, this can actually make the insomnia worse.

More on this study

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