Taking The Mystery Out of Sleep Episode Rationing

When reading the SomniSkills Workbook, it is important to keep the basic sleep goal in mind: The goal is to be tired enough to fall asleep within 15 – 20 minutes, and then sleep throughout the night with minimal awakenings. And you want that to happen night after night! In technical terms, you want to achieve a high level of Sleep Efficiency.

How do you improve Sleep Efficiency? By doing things that increase your Sleep Drive. All the recommendations in the SomniSkills Workbook are designed to do that. However, Sleep Episode Rationing is probably the most powerful technique for increasing your Sleep Drive. Some people shy away from this technique because, at first glance, it may seem a bit complicated. But Sleep Episode Rationing is really quite simple. You only have to limit the amount of time in bed devoted to sleeping.*

People with insomnia often spend too much time in bed hoping to make up for lost sleep. That approach usually backfires. They often end up lying awake, tossing and turning, struggling to sleep. Limiting the amount of time devoted to sleep is much more effective strategy. You will be more likely to fall asleep sooner and sleep more soundly throughout the night.

Below is a brief summary of how to implement Sleep Episode Rationing. After reviewing these simple steps, please reread Chapter 12 in the SomniSkills Workbook. There you will also find a Worksheet to guide you.

Simple instructions for Sleep Episode Rationing (See Chapter 12 for more details):

1. Determine the average amount of time you actually sleep each night. After waking in the morning, write down how many hours you actually slept. We call that your Total Sleep Time. Don’t get hung up on being perfectly accurate. Do this for 5 – 7 nights. That way, even if one or two recordings are a bit off, you will still have a reasonably accurate assessment of your average Total Sleep Time. Just make sure these nights are ”typical.” For example, don’t include nights on vacation or when something unusual is affecting your sleep.

2. Determine the duration of your Prescribed Sleep Episode. The duration of your Prescribed Sleep Episode will amount to your average Total Sleep Time PLUS a Cushion. Your Cushion can be any amount from 30 – 60 minutes. You will decide how much of a Cushion to use. If you are very worried about not having enough time to sleep, then choose a Cushion closer to 60 minutes. If you are not so worried and want to progress faster, then pick 30 to 45 minutes.

Here is an example: Assume your average Total Sleep Time is 6 hours a night. Then assume you choose a cushion of 30 minutes. Your Prescribed Sleep Episode will be 6 hours and 30 minutes. That means that you will be spending 6 hours and 30 minutes with your eyes closed, devoted to sleeping.

Please keep in mind that you can always change the duration of your Prescribed Sleep Episode, including your Cushion, based on how well it is working. Read the section on “Gauging Progress and Making Adjustments” at the end of Chapter 12.

3. Schedule your Prescribed Sleep Episode. First, decide your “Wake-Up Time” for the next morning. Then schedule your “Eyes-Closed Time” to begin so that your “Wake-Up Time” occurs exactly at the end of Prescribed Sleep Episode. For example, assume your Prescribed Sleep Episode is 6 hours and 30 minutes. Your “Eyes-Closed Time” should occur 6 hours and 30 minutes before your “Wake-Up Time.” If your Wake-Up time is 6 AM, then your “Eyes-Closed Time” will be 11:30 PM. That sleep schedule will allow you to devote 6 hours and 30 minutes to sleeping.

Try to keep the same sleep schedule every night. A consistent sleep schedule enhances the effectiveness of Sleep Episode Rationing.

You now have a basic understanding of how simple Sleep Episode Rationing is. Please review Chapter 12 and begin implementing this technique as soon as possible. We think you will be pleased with the results. Don’t put off incorporating this valuable tool for improving your sleep!

*Readers may be familiar with Sleep Restriction Therapy, Sleep Scheduling, or Sleep Compression. Those sleep procedures are very similar to Sleep Episode Rationing.

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