What Is Sleep Restriction Therapy For Insomnia?

Last Update on May 19, 2022 : Published on November 7, 2020
Sleep restriction therapy

Sleep restriction therapy is a behavioral therapy used to treat insomnia. This therapy is based on the concept that spending excessive time on bed often develops insomnia. If one spends limited time in bed, there are chances of having a better sleep cycle.

Looking at insomnia, it is a condition where a person finds it difficult to sleep properly and feel rested. This condition already affects 40% of the population around the world where 22% could be in chronic insomniac state. Sleep is indeed an important part to keep your overall health maintained or else one may find their performance decreased, psychological distress and anxiety.

Although one must look for simple bedtime habits to have improved sleep, let us also dig the depths of sleep restriction therapy for insomnia.

The Concept & Theory Behind Sleep Restriction Therapy

The therapy believes that when an individual spends a lot of time in bed not sleeping may develop negative beliefs about sleep. For example, they continuously think that they won’t be able to sleep or have to put in extra efforts to have a good sleep. This thought process and uncomfortable sleep interfere with their overall daytime functioning.

It is said that if you are not able to fall asleep even after tossing around in bed, strategies like 10, 60 or 120 seconds and more than 20 minutes have already passed, leave your bed. Better if you go to your couch or some other place and come back only when you actually feel sleepy.

Also Read: 15 Best Yoga Poses For Better Sleep In Bedtime

If you increase your time limit in bed till next morning, it is possible that the next night would also be again hampered and the overall sleep cycle would disrupt. When one goes through sleep restriction therapy, what happens is:

  • A person facing insomnia can sleep earlier than usual and experience deep sleep.
  • The negative set of thoughts associated with bed and sleep cycle would vanish soon.

How Sleep Restriction Therapy Works?

One should consult a sleep therapist before applying the strategies at home as sleep patterns and cycle differ according to various factors like:

  • Age
  • Medical conditions
  • Medications
  • Lifestyle decisions

When the therapy begins, you are asked to keep a log of time spent on bed. A diary is maintained for a few weeks where you need to mention the length of time you were asleep in actual, total time spent on the bed, disturbances occurred and habits being followed before sleep. For example, mentioning usage of screen, drinking coffee or alcohol at night must be mentioned in the logs.

Also Read: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Sleep Disorders

Based on your logs, the therapist decides the total time you are allowed to stay in bed. For example, if you are sleeping 6 hours a night, only 6 hours of total bedtime would be allowed.

As soon as you feel that you are able to sleep for an appropriate number of hours and time has consistently increased, you would be allowed to increase your bedtime. Your sleep efficiency is expected to increase every passing day and the therapist will measure your sleep for best results.

However, you will not be allowed to take naps in between the day and have to follow other sleep guidelines as explained by them. The good news is that sleep restriction therapy lasts for a few months only and you can find yourself back in the circadian cycle.

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What Can You Expect From Sleep Restriction Therapy?

It is likely that you feel uncomfortable with the sleep schedule in the first few weeks of the therapy. There are chances of reduced alertness, irritable mood, and low productivity at work. The therapists recommend that you avoid using screens for longer periods of time during the daytime.

Therefore it is required to have a support group and prior information to the official authorities about the therapy you have been undergoing.

Also Read: Try These Simple Bedtimes Habit For Better Sleep and Mental Well-being

As the time passes, you can expect to see benefits of sleep restriction therapy like active mental state, improved sleep cycle and escape of other complicated issues in the future.

Good Night!

Although sleep restriction therapy tips will definitely help you in treating insomnia, you must also guide yourself through sleep disorders, best yoga poses for better sleep and learn a little more about cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep disorders.

Let us help you more with therapies! All you have to do is email us at info@calmsage.com and get connected to an expert for best advice.

About The Author

Akanksha Soni
Akanksha Soni

Akanksha is an active lifestyle blogger and writer at Calmsage. She has learnt various lessons on happiness and methods to fight depression through 'Gurus' as well as own experiences. An ardent practitioner of Yoga and meditation, she keeps traveling, writes and interacts with people to feel alive.


  1. mariya

    I really need this , here you are explaining very well hope it works for me , thanks for update us :)

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