You often hear that you should sleep at least 8 hours. However, this is not true for everyone. Sleep needs vary from person to person. Some need a much as 9 or 10 hours of sleep while others function well on as little as 5 or 6 hours of sleep.
Ask yourself how much you slept duringa time when you had opportunity to sleep during the night and no daytime obligations. If you slept for example 7 hours during such a time, then this is your sleep need. Sleep need is genetically driven and does not change much over our lifetiimes. We typically need a little less sleep as we grow older.
A good estimate is how sleepy you feel during the day. The more difficulties you have staying awake during the the day the more sleep deprived you are. If you are not sleepy or falling asleep during the day then this means that your sleep needs are met or nearly met.
Many with insomnia experience that they get their best sleep in the early morning hours. There could be many reasons for this but the most likely is that you have insufficient sleep drive at bedtime. Just as we get hungrier the longer we go without eating we build up sleep drive as we stay awake. If your sleep drive is insufficient when you go to bed you may toss and turn for hours until finally, in the early morning you have sufficient sleep drive for susained sleep. Restricting time in bed and keeping a fixed wake up time may allow you to sleep better earlier in the night.
This is most likely a sign of associating the bed and/or bedroom environment with insomnia. People with long-standing difficulties sleeping often associates the bedroom with insomnia and when attempting to sleep this stressful association alerts them and wakes him up. Leaving the bedroom in what feels like 20 minutes may help you re-associate the bedroom with sleep.
This is a typical sign that you are associating your bedroom/bedroom environment with insomnia. In an environment that is not associated with difficulty sleeping your sleep well, however at home you have difficulty sleeping. Restricting your time in bed, leaving the bedroom if you have not fallen asleep in what feels like 20 minutes and only returning when you feel sleepy may help you re-associate your bedroom with insomnia.
This suggests that your sleep drive is insufficient. The short time you are asleep is insuffucient to decrease your sleep drive to a point where you wake up alert. Going to bed later but keeping a fixed wake up time may help sustaining your sleep for longer periods of time.
Many with insomnia feel “wired but tired”. They feel tired, but their brains simply won’t calm down and allow them to sleep. Some are kept awake by stressful thoughts, other by neutral of even positive thoughs. This problem suggest that the sleep drive, the “hunger for sleep” is not strong enough to overcome the alerting effects of thoughts. Restricting time in bed to build up a strong sleep drive may allow you to overcome racing thoughts.
Many with insomnia experience a state of almost perpetual wakefulness. They feel as if even when sleeping they hear and feel and are aware of their surroundings. This most often is caused by an isufficient sleep drive when going ted. Instead of achieving consolidted sleep you fluctuate between light sleep and wakefulness which feels as if you don’t sleep at all. Restricting time in bed to have a strong sleep drive at bedtime may allow you to sleep more soundly.
It is common for people with difficulty sleeping to sleep even worse when they have little time available. Being aware how little time they have to sleep is anxietly provoking and worsens their insomnia. One strategy that often makes things even worse is going to bed earlier to have more opportunity to sleep. When going bed earlier you are almost guaranteed to either not fall asleep for a long time or wake up shortly after falling asleep wide awake. Either is going to be stressful and undermine your ability to sleep. Try to go to bed around your normal bedtime if you feel sleepy and even later if you don’t. Also try to avoid looking at a clock after going to bed. Not being aware of the time may be helpful when you have to get up early as you will not have the additional stress of knowing exactly how many hours or minutes you have left to sleep.
Many insomniacs feel that if they go to bed later han a certain time they can’t fall asleep. This paradoxical phenomenon is hard to explain. It is possible that the stress provoked by missing the window of opportunity to sleep in itself is the problem. Know that you are not alone if you feel that you have to fall asleep by a certain time or face severe insomia. Ahough using bedtime restriction will mean doing the exact opposite of what you feel is best for you, trying it may pay off in the long run.
Sleep tracking devices are generally good at estimating how much you sleep but not at telling one sleep stage from another. In other words, the total sleep recorded by your sleep tracking device is likely accurate. How much REM sleep, deep sleep or light sleep you have may not be.
Although some people seem to sleep better using a sleep aid, medications are very rarly a soluion for insomina. Many sleep aids are helpful initially but after days, weeks or months tolerane develoThe intial dosage is no longer effective and a higher dose or a different medication is now needed. Eventually many end up on high doses of sedating medications and continue to have insomnia. At this point it is very difficult to wean yourself off sleep aids as this would cause rebound insomnia. Cognitive behavioral therapy based strategies including the BedTyme method are more sustainable strategies to help you sleep better.
Melatonin is produced by our pineal glands typically around 8 to 10 p.m. Melatonin lowers blood pressure and pulse and repares usor sleep. Melatonin is not a strong hypnotic and is used mainly adjust your sleep phase (think jet lag or shift work) but can be helpful for insomnia. How effective other supplements or natural remedies are is mostly unknown. However, as melatonin and natural remedies typically are not associated with side effects, tolerance or depence it may not hurt to try.