There are two types of insomnia. The first type is acute, meaning short-term difficulty either going to sleep or staying asleep. The other type is chronic, and as the name suggests, it involves ongoing problems falling or staying asleep.
Insomnia is common. About one in four people will experience some difficulty falling or staying asleep every year. About 10 percent of people have such difficulty sleeping that it’s labeled chronic insomnia. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep that accompanies insomnia is associated with cognitive decline.
What’s the solution for insomniacs? Well, one solution is what cognitive behavioral scientists call “stimulus control therapy.” The goal is a reduction in that uneasy, anxiety-fueled brain swirl that so many with insomnia experience upon slipping into bed: I know I’m not going to sleep, why even bother, I wish I could sleep, arggghhhh!
Stimulus control therapy has five basic tenets:
Go to bed only when you’re sleepy.
Get out of bed when you’re unable to sleep. (In other words, don’t just lie there, fretting.)
Use your bedroom only for sleep or sex. In other words, that TV in your bedroom? It has to go, sorry. As does your phone, computer, and tablet.
Wake up at the same time every morning. (A small analog alarm clock next to the bed is better than the glare and sleep distraction of your phone or a digital clock.)
Try doing all five of these this week, and record the results in your sleep diary.