Sleep Restriction Therapy (SRT)

Some people intentionally increase their time spent in bed, in a futile attempt to increase their chances of sleeping for a longer period. Unfortunately this strategy often simply leads to fragmented and poor-quality sleep.

Sleep restriction therapy (SRT) ironically involves cutting back on the amount of time spent in bed in order to help increase the percentage of time asleep.

For instance, Let’s say on average John stays in bed for 10 hours but sleeps an average of 5 hours per night. His time asleep/time in bed ratio would be 5/10 or 0.5.

Applying SRT, John will initially decrease his time in bed to 5 hours. Regrettably he may only sleep for 4 hours that night, but on the positive side, he has immediately increased his time asleep/time in bed ratio from 5/10 (0.5) to 4/5 (0.9).

The allowable time in bed is gradually increased 15-30 minutes per night. The goal is maintain a time asleep/time in bed ratio of 0.8-1.0.

Let us now say that after one week, John spends 7.5 hours in bed and sleeps for 6 hours. His time asleep/time in bed ratio is now 6/7.5 or 0.8, which is at the lower end of the ideal ratio range. His time in bed should not be increased until his ratio improves.

In a nutshell, John’s time spent in bed is adjusted over the weeks, until his optimal sleep duration is achieved.

When applying SRT, it is recommended to keep the rise time constant (even on weekends), and change the bedtime. This is to maintain a sleep-wake rhythm.

Why does SRT work for some individuals with sleep disorders?

It is hypothesized that by intentionally creating a mild state of sleep deprivation, it may help an individual have a faster sleep onset and a more efficient sleep.

You may purchase for your clinic, 20 copies of the patient educational brochures & Questionnaire on the topic of “Sleep” for only $1 . A Relaxation /Sleep CD by Debbie PAtterson PT, may also be purchased for only $8 by visiting the APTEI bookstore.

Posted on: January 12, 2006

Categories: Relevant Physical Therapy Articles

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