Watching the clock… over and over… waiting to fall asleep and getting anxious wondering if this will be another sleepless night.  This is one of the most common experiences with insomnia.  This new study looked into what effect that pressure to fall asleep actually has on sleep when it eventually does come.

The researchers at Lomonosov Moscow State University explored what happens when “healthy sleepers” (people that don’t have any issues sleeping) try hard to fall asleep. In the study the researchers gave study participants a money reward if they were able to fall asleep quickly. The result of this was that when people tried hard to get to sleep they ended up having a harder time falling asleep. Can you relate to this, for when you try hard to try and catch up with sleep?

Another interesting finding was that these people also ended up having worse quality sleep during the night once they were able to fall asleep. They experienced what sleep researchers call “sleep fragmentation” which notes that these people woke up more often during the middle of the night. Here’s another example of how tricky it can be to sleep well – often the solution (try hard to get to sleep) becomes the problem (more problems with sleep).

While you can’t make yourself fall asleep, there are things you can do to help promote sleep.  A quick tip is to turn the alarm clock around or put it under the bed if you must have an alarm clock in the bedroom.  Watching the clock can only make things worse and fuel your anxiety.  Read more on the full treatment for insomnia here.

The Take Away:

Trying hard to fall asleep leads to more trouble falling asleep and trouble staying asleep as well.