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Insomnia relief might start with spending less time in bed, new study finds

January 26, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(David Gothard / For The Times )

Sleeping seems easy enough, but not so for the estimated 5 percent to 20 percent of Americans who have insomnia. Perhaps, a new study suggests, they should spend less time in bed.

The study published online Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine tested 79 older adults with insomnia. In one group, patients were told to:

"Reduce time in bed;
get up at the same time every day, regardless of sleep duration;
do not go to bed unless sleepy; and do not stay in bed unless asleep."

Those instructions were delivered by a nurse in both in-person visits and through phone calls. More than half improved their sleeping habits after four weeks. A second group that received printed materials from a nurse with the same instructions but without the personal contact didn't show such improvements. Here's the study abstract.

Researchers say their suggestions offer a simple solution for short-term management of insomnia. And that sure beats just counting sheep.

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