Sleep Restriction Therapy

Sleep Restriction Therapy
Sleep Restriction Therapy

Insomnia is the leading sleep disorder among Americans. Sleep restriction disorder is a behavioral therapy to deal with insomnia. Learn how SRT can help you to beat insomnia and to sleep better.

Sleep Restriction Therapy

This is one of the foremost treatments that are being used in the management of insomnia. Sleep restriction therapy is aimed at limiting the time that an individual spends in bed to just the time the individual spends sleeping. It is also aimed at increasing sleep efficiency by prolonging your sleeping time.

When you restrict the time you spend in bed it will create mild sleep deprivation that can create an earlier onset of sleep. The sleep that you will experience will be more effective and even deeper. You will also experience less night-by-night variation in the quality and quantity of sleep.

This therapy does not use any drugs and it has proven to be very effective in dealing with different types of insomnia. It will require a lot of dedication from the patient because it will prove very easy for him/her to fall off the treatment wagon.

The typical sleep restriction protocol

  • The first step that is taken when starting this therapy is determining the patient’s average total sleep time (ATST) per night. This can be calculated from a sleep diary that has been kept for a week thus representing the individual’s daily routine.
  • The next thing is restricting the patient’s time spent in bed to the ATST by establishing a fixed bedtime based on the preferred waking time in the morning. It is important that no sleep is allowed outside of the allocated sleep time and ensure that the sleep time is not less than 4 and ½ hours.
  • The next step is monitoring the efficiency of sleep on a daily basis which is calculated by multiplying the total sleep time (TST) by 100.
  • Once you find that the weekly average sleep efficiency exceeds 90%, you should increase the time spent in bed b 15 minutes. If the average weekly sleep efficiency falls below 80% you should decrease the time spent in bed by 15 minutes.

The main idea behind sleep restriction therapy

main idea behind sleep restriction therapy

This type of therapy aims at ensuring that the patient sleeps the entire time he/she is in bed. The patient will be required to set a strict sleeping and waking time that he/she has to follow.

With at least 30% of Americans found to be suffering from chronic insomnia by a National Sleep Foundation study, sleep restriction therapy is a welcome remedy.

The time allocated for sleep will be determined by estimating how long the patient has actually been sleeping during the night and not the time he/she has been spending in bed.

For example, a patient might spend approximately 7 hours in bed but only sleeps for 5 hours. The Sleep restriction therapy (SRT) will be restricted to 5 hours and the patient will only be allowed to spend this amount of time in bed no more, no less.

The time allocated for bed can be slowly increased if the patient still feels sleepy during the day. The increase is usually done by adding 15 minutes at a time.

Side effects of SRT

All treatments usually have side effects even this one despite the fact that it does not use meds.

The side effects exhibited by patients who underwent this trial in Scotland include the following:

  • A constant headache
  • Excessive sleepiness during the daytime
  • A lot of fatigue

The SRT treatment in a way may be soliciting these side effects on purpose when you consider that the people who are having their sleeping time reduced are those suffering from insomnia. With time these side effects will disappear and thus render the treatment successful.

Who should conduct this therapy?

A normal physician is not allowed to conduct this treatment as they have not been properly trained. You should see a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you through this therapy though you can still do it all on your own if you are a person who has a strong will.

When SRT is conducted effectively it will only take a few weeks to retrain an insomnia patient to have a regular sleeping schedule.

SRT in the treatment of depression

When someone is suffering from insomnia it can mean that he/she is suffering from depression as well.

You may find people who suffer from both depression and insomnia will usually fall asleep at the right time but they will probably wake up during the night and find it hard to go back to sleep.

SRT has proven to work as a short-term treatment for depression. When you do not allow people to sleep for the time they want it can help to reduce depression though it does not work for everyone.


SRT has been used for a long time now and it has been effective in helping very many people suffering from insomnia.

Most people would run to getting drugs to help them fall asleep at night but this therapy is a great alternative that does not use any chemicals. It is a type of behavioral therapy that will be sure to work long-term as long as the person remains focused for a few weeks.

Since this therapy will require you to spend time in bed, it is important to ensure that your environment is conducive. This includes getting a comfortable mattress and pillows to ensure that you get quality sleep during the night.

If you are suffering from insomnia and you don’t want to take medication this is the treatment for you.


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