It doesn’t sound like it makes too much sense – but the “cure” for insomnia could be staying awake.
One sleep expert says that trying to stay awake can (paradoxically) mean you drop off quicker.
“Try applying a bit of reverse psychology – and try to stay awake,” psychologist Dr Richard Wiseman told the Daily Mail.
“Paradoxically, this seems to make you feel less anxious and help you sleep.”
Wiseman said, “In a useful study, researchers from the University of Glasgow asked volunteers to monitor their sleep for two weeks.
“One group was asked to try to stay awake for as long as possible, while the other didn’t receive any special instructions. Those trying to stay awake felt less anxious at bedtime and fell asleep quicker.”
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The key, Wiseman says, is stopping yourself feeling anxious about getting to sleep.
A recent review of 20 sleep studies found that "sleep reduction therapy" is as effective as drugs in helping issues with sleep.
It’s not quite as simple as just staying up, though – sleep restriction therapy is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia, designed to push sleepers into changing thoughts and habits.
During the therapy, patients monitor how much sleep they actually get – then restrict their hours in bed to mirror that time.
As the therapy progresses, they gradually increase the hours they spend in bed.
The point is that patients no longer spend hours in bed waiting to sleep.
“People get very focused on total sleep time, on how much sleep they got,” said Dr Michael Perlis of the University of Pennsylvania in an interview with New York magazine.
“And they forget what actually pisses them off is not six hours of sleep—that’s not great. But waiting for sleep, being in bed at the middle of the night staring at the ceiling? That’s what you want to get rid of.”