How do I practice Sleep Restriction Therapy?
First of all, you need to plan how many hours you are going spend in bed for the next week – i.e. by how much you are going to restrict your sleep window.
Let’s assume you currently go to bed at 11pm and get out of bed at 7am. But, though you lie in bed for eight hours, your tracker shows that you only sleep, on average, for six hours, giving you a sleep efficiency of 75%, which is low (ideally you want this up around 85%).
Having established that you sleep for six hours, for the next week you are going to spend just six hours in bed each night. You will get up at the same time every morning, i.e. at 7am. But instead of going to bed at 11pm, you are going to be going to bed at 1am. (Similarly, if you have found that you are only asleep for five and a half hours, then for the next week you are going to spend just five and a half hours in bed; and so you will go to bed at 1.30am.)
The four main rules, if you decide to try SRT, are:
- Do not cut your time in bed to below five hours.
- Stick to it rigorously.
- Do not lie down, nap or snooze during the day and get your family to wake you if you do.
- Do not drive or use machinery if you experience serious daytime sleepiness.
SRT is extremely effective but it is a challenge. Initially, during the day, you may feel sleepier and more irritable, so you do have to be very careful about driving or working machinery. Staying up late at night when you want to be asleep is also quite boring. However, the good news is that it doesn’t last for long and it really does work.