As a parent, having insomnia is a double whammy. A child means an ever-present alarm clock that precludes sleeping in, even on the weekends — but if you also have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep even when your little one is soundly slumbering, well, that’s just not fair.
When we can’t sleep, most of us lie there tossing and turning with our eyes closed, sometimes for hours. But a new study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine says that doesn’t work as well as a few other tricks.
The first one: Get out of bed. Here’s why – along with the other 3 techniques that help people stop staring at the ceiling in the wee hours:
The idea behind not staying in bed when you’re sleepless is that it creates bad associations for your bed — namely, your body learns that this is a place where you’re restless and alert. You want positive, cozy, sleepy associations with your bed only. So you’re better off getting up and reading on the couch, for example, until you get tired.
The other recommendations that reduced insomnia in the study:
- Reduce time in bed.
- Get up at the same time every day, regardless of sleep duration.
- Do not go to bed unless sleepy.
The participants who followed these recommendations reduced insomnia by 55 percent, compared to 13 percent for the control group, who read an informational packet on insomnia only (with no recommendations). The subjects kept a sleep diary and also wore an actigraph to measure sleep objectively.