Improving Your Sleep: Stimulus Control and Stress Reduction

Stress is an essential part of a lifestyle; however, it is also a major precursor to insomnia, probably the most important contributing factor. Studies have shown that a reduction of stress could lead to a 53% decline in insomnia rates. Stress and insomnia are tricky to control because if the stress is not removed and the insomnia persists it is also creating a stress on the body, and increasing the insomnia; this quickly becomes a vicious cycle.

Stimulus control is generally used in conjunction with sleep restriction, as a method of reducing time in bed. It is particularly useful in subjects who have conditioned themselves to become mentally active when they get into bed. If sleep initiation takes more than 10 minutes to achieve, the subject should then get out of bed, leave the room and do something unstimulating until they feel drowsy. This should be repeated as required. The objective of this is to disassociate bed with stimulating activity, therefore bed is strictly for sleep only (sex is permitted) so that they become conditioned to sleep in bed and nothing else. Even though sleep debt and daytime fatigue may initially increase, stimulus control (particularly in partnership with sleep restriction) can effectively decrease sleep latency. The degree of impact is significantly higher than that associated effectively decrease sleep latency. The degree of impact is significantly higher than that associated with hypnotic use.

 

In one study a group of self-selected subjects all reporting to be suffering from stress, insomnia and various other health issues (excessive drinking, smoking cigarettes, and the use of tranquillizers and hypnotics) met for an hour and a half a week over eight weeks to undergo stress management training. The training consisted of learning about stress theory, low-stress lifestyle principles, techniques for handling stressful events and relaxation methods. At a follow-up check twelve months after receiving the treatment there was a seventy-eight percent improvement in the insomnia.