What Is It
When people have suffered from insomnia for quite some time, sometimes a kind of unconscious learning sets in. Without being aware of it, they gradually start to associate their bedroom with frustration and awakening rather than with sleep.
You may be dozing in the living room in the evening, but just going into the bedroom, turning off the light and lying down brings back all the old frustrations. Thus sleep evaporates. This is called conditioned insomnia.
How to Identify
To find out whether you have conditioned insomnia, ask yourself where you sleep best? Is it in your bedroom or somewhere else?
Perhaps, you sleep better on the couch in your living room, or basement, or on vacation away from home. If that is the case, you could be suffering from conditioned insomnia.
How to Treat
One of the most effective methods for treating conditioned insomnia is a stimulus-control therapy that has been developed by Dr. R. Bootzin. Therefore it is called a Bootzin Technique.
Here are the steps of Bootzin Technique:
- Use your bedroom only for sleeping - no reading, watching TV, or eating in bed.
- Go to bed only when you are sleepy.
- If you are unable to sleep, get up and move to another room. Stay up until you are really sleepy, and then return to bed. If sleep does not come easily within 20-30 minutes, get out of bed again. The goal is to associate your bed and bedroom not with frustration and sleeplessness, but with falling asleep.
- Repeat the above step as often as necessary throughout the night.
- Set the alarm, and get up at the same time every morning, regardless of how much you slept during the night. This helps your body to acquire a constant sleep-wake rhythm.
- Do not nap during the day.
You may get up 5-10 times and don't get much sleep during the first few nights. However, as sleep deprivation increases, it will become easier to fall asleep. Eventually, a normal sleeping pattern will develop.
It takes willpower and time to change your feelings about your bed and bedroom. Although the typical period is 2 weeks, be prepared to endure it for as long as 5 weeks if necessary.
The Bootzin Technique is your best bet in dealing with conditioned insomnia.