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CBTI Part III: Reducing Sleep-Interfering Arousal/Activation

In Part I we introduced SleepRate’s “secret sauce,” CBTI (Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for Insomnia), the exclusive, Stanford-developed program we use to improve people’s sleep, and discussed how it uses Stimulus Control to establish the bed as a cue for sleep. In Part II, we discussed another important aspect of the CBTI: Sleep Restriction.

This week, we’ll discuss CBTI’s third component: Reducing Sleep-Interfering Arousal/Activation. This includes a variety of relaxation techniques, stress management skills, and reducing sleep-related worries.

Modern life comes with modern worries, and plenty of them. Often, it’s hard to fall asleep with the brain trying to cope with everything from day-to-day to-do’s to global calamities covered in the evening news.

To counter these roadblocks to a good night’s sleep, the behavioral sleep medicine specialist uses cognitive therapy to reduce arousal by helping patients shift from “trying hard to sleep” to “allowing sleep to happen.” But you can also help yourself by following the following tips, which can help lead you to dreamland sooner than later:

  • Use the hour before bedtime to unwind from the day’s stresses. This down time will allow sleepiness to come to the surface and will therefore facilitate sleep onset. This is a time to engage in activities that are enjoyable yet calming.
  • Avoid clock watching. Turn the clock around so you cannot see the time yet you can still use it as an alarm. A recent study showed that volunteers who were asked to monitor a digital clock at bedtime took longer to fall asleep than those monitoring a similarly looking device that displayed random digits.
  • Avoid exercise within four hours before bedtime.
  • Make sure that the sleep environment is safe, quiet and pleasant.

In future posts, we will also talk about being aware of the impact food and substances can have on sleep patterns as well as the body’s own biological clock.

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