If I could give only one instruction to people struggling with sleep problems, it would be this: keep a consistent wake-up time. And, yes, I do mean seven days a week. And, yes, even if you didn’t get much sleep the night before. You can imagine that this instruction is not a popular one, so why is it important?
One simple reason is that we cannot control when we will go to sleep. We can get in bed and hope to sleep, but as so many of us know, being in bed and ready to sleep does not mean we’ll actually fall asleep right then. What we can control, however, is what time we wake up. (I’m not including people who have the early-awakening form of insomnia here and are waking up hours before they want to).
There are multiple reasons why a consistent waking time is important but I’m going to address just one. If you are consistent in waking up at the same time each day, regardless of how little sleep you got the night before, sleep problems become self-correcting. If you get up at 6 a.m. daily, no matter what, you can only accumulate so much of what is called “sleep pressure” (the physiological need for sleep) before you fall asleep at a reasonable time. Waking up at a consistent time will help you to fall asleep at a more consistent time. This is not a quick fix for sleep problems, but if you stick with it, it will help.
If you have sleep problems, I can help! I offer CBT-I, a highly effective type of therapy for insomnia. Treatment is about five sessions. Call or text me at 816-226-4678.