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6 Easy Steps to Falling Asleep Fast

6 Easy Steps to Falling Asleep Fast

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Published by Ken Connor

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Published by: Ken Connor on May 27, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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6 Easy Steps to Falling Asleep FastCan't get a good night's sleep? You're not alone. In surveys of what would improve people's lives,a good night's sleep frequently comes near the top of the list.Poor sleep results in worse cognitive performance, including degraded memory, attention,performance and alertness. And in the long term insomnia is also associated with anxiety anddepression. And people's sleep gets worse as they get older. After 65 years old, between 12%and 40% of people have insomnia.All sorts of methods have been tried to combat poor sleep, from drugs through psychologicalremedies to more outlandish treatments.The problem with drugs is that they have side-effects and are often addictive. The problem withthe more outlandish treatments is that although they tend not to have side-effects, we don't knowif they have any effect at all. Psychological remedies, though, combine the best of both worlds:studies show they work without side-effects.Stimulus Control TherapyProfessor Richard R. Bootzin has been researching sleep disorders for many years at theUniversity of Arizona Sleep Research Lab. Writing in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology,he describes the different psychological approaches that have been used to treat insomnia(Bootzin & Epstein, 2011).Of these the most successful single intervention is called Stimulus Control Therapy (Morin et al.,2006). You'll be happy to hear it consists of six very straightforward steps. If you follow these itshould improve your sleep. After the list I'll explain the thinking behind them. First, here are their six steps:1. Lie down to go to sleep only when you are sleepy.2. Do not use your bed for anything except sleep; that is, do not read, watch television, eat, or worry in bed. Sexual activity is the only exception to this rule. On such occasions, the instructionsare to be followed afterwards, when you intend to go to sleep.3. If you find yourself unable to fall asleep, get up and go into another room. Stay up as long asyou wish and then return to the bedroom to sleep. Although we do not want you to watch theclock, we want you to get out of bed if you do not fall asleep immediately. Remember the goal isto associate your bed with falling asleep quickly! If you are in bed more than about 10 minuteswithout falling asleep and have not gotten up, you are not following this instruction.4. If you still cannot fall asleep, repeat step 3. Do this as often as is necessary throughout thenight.5. Set your alarm and get up at the same time every morning irrespective of how much sleepyou got during the night. This will help your body acquire a consistent sleep rhythm.6. Do not nap during the day.Why it worksThis method is based on the idea that we are like Pavlov's drooling dog. We attach certain stimuliin the environment to certain thoughts and behaviours. Famously Pavlov's dogs would startdrooling when a bell rang, because they associated hearing the bell with getting food. Eventuallythe dogs would drool at the sound of the bell even when they didn't get any food. Replace the bellwith a bed and food with sleep and conceptually you're there.

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