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Less Time in Bed May Protect Against Chronic Insomnia

Less Time in Bed May Protect Against Chronic Insomnia
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Monday, 13 June 2016 04:08 PM

As many as 50 percent of American adults suffer from acute insomnia each year, which is defined by having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week for between two weeks and three months. About 10 percent of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia, which is defined by difficult falling and staying asleep that lasts longer than three months.

Chronic insomnia has serious health effects, including impaired physical and mental performance, increased risk for mental health disorders, such as depression and substance abuse, and an increased risk for many diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine say that getting up and out of bed when insomnia strikes may prevent it from becoming chronic. For example, say the researchers, if someone goes to sleep at 11 p.m. and wakes up at 5 a.m. (versus an intended 7:30 a.m.), they should get up and start their day, rather than lie awake in bed.

For a year, the researchers evaluated the sleeping experiences of 416 people, ranging from good sleepers who remained good sleepers, to those who began suffering from acute insomnia and then recovered, to those who were good sleepers who changed to having acute insomnia and then progressed to long-term chronic insomnia.

They found that 20 percent of good sleepers experience acute insomnia every year, 45 percent of these individuals recover, 48 percent have persistent but periodic insomnia, and 7 percent develop chronic insomnia.

"Those with insomnia typically extend their sleep opportunity," says Michael Perlis, Ph.D., director of the Penn Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program. "They go to bed early, get out of bed late, and they nap.

"While this seems a reasonable thing to do, and may well be in the short term," he said, "the problem in the longer term is it creates a mismatch between the individual's current sleep ability and their current sleep opportunity; this fuels insomnia."

Choosing to stay awake (rather than staying in bed trying to sleep) is not only a productive strategy for an individual with acute insomnia, it is also recommended by the American College of Physicians as a part of cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic insomnia.


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As many as 50 percent of American adults suffer from acute insomnia each year, which is defined by having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at least three nights a week for between two weeks and three months. About 10 percent of Americans suffer from chronic...
less, time, bed, protect, against, chronic, insomnia
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2016-08-13
Monday, 13 June 2016 04:08 PM
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