Of course the article contains a mixed message, as on the one hand we know that sleep is so important for health and wellbeing, but on the other, we know that worrying too much about sleep is one of the worst things we can do for our slumber. Worry is most definitely the wrong tool for the job when it comes to treating insomnia.
“When you pull fear out of the process and adopt the idea of skipping a few hours’ sleep as not a huge problem, it changes your perspective.” This is so true. When we are able to reduce worry about sleep, we can relax, stop all the tossing and turning, reduce arousal, and trust that sleep will come if we let it. Telling yourself to 'stop worrying' is unlikely to help, and the more you try to not worry, the more frustrated you may become. We find that mindfulness techniques can help (as noted in the article), corrective evidence to challenge the worry, and lots of science-backed information that ensures our clients understand how sleep works, and what gets in the way.
The article also discusses one of the most effective, evidence-based CBT strategies for treating insomnia - bedtime restriction. This is where people reduce the amount of time spent in bed for a number of weeks in order to increase the biological pressure to sleep. It sounds tough, and indeed can be, but armed with a good plan, understanding the rationale for the strategy and good support, we find that most clients see improvement within 1-2 weeks. This is a huge relief to those who have been sleeping poorly for years.
Well done to the Sunday Times for publishing an article that isn't full of scary information about sleep deprivation, and rather, promoting an evidence-based, effective, common sense approach.
If you would like assistance with poor sleep, get in touch with Sleep Matters today.