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Reduce Bedtime to Get a Better Night's Sleep

Update Date: Feb 14, 2013 11:34 AM EST

Can't fall asleep at night? If so, sleep experts say that you should limit the time you spend in bed.

Experts from The Sleep Council found that sleep restriction could help people who get little sleep fall asleep faster and wake up fewer times in the night.

Researchers say that this is a new approach that can potentially help problem sleepers. Limiting the time spent on bed trying to fall asleep could build a strong association between your bed and sleep.  For instance, a person who usually only gets five hours of sleep a night but spends seven hours in bed may benefit from limiting themselves to just five hours in bed at night.

Researchers warn that this technique could make you more tired at first. However, it would ultimately make you fall asleep faster and achieve better quality sleep.

"It's not suitable if you're only getting a couple of hours sleep and should be supervised by a qualified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist," Jessica Alexander of The Sleep Council said in a news release.

Clinical trials have revealed that CBT is the most effective long-term solution for insomniacs. The method works by helping problem sleepers identify the negative attitudes and beliefs that make falling asleep difficult and replacing them with positive thoughts.

For example a typical DBT exercise is to set aside half an hour everyday in which you do you day's worrying.  During the worry period you write in a diary all your negative thoughts.  Previous research has shown that the very act of writing worries down actually reduces them.  Afterwards, worrying is banned at any other time of the day and once in bed, people should close their eyes and picture each worry floating away in a balloon. 

Other studies have revealed that sleeping on an uncomfortable bed could rob you of up to an hour of sleep each day. However, because the deterioration is very gradual, people often fail to make the connection between an uncomfortable bed and poor sleep. Researchers recommend that people replace their bed after seven years.

"Getting a good night's sleep can be dependent on a whole range of factors - from diet and exercise to the importance of a good bed to a good night's sleep," says Alexander concluded.

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