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Sleep Restriction Therapy: A Solution for Insomnia and Sleep Disorders | Sleep Reset

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June 18, 2023

Sleep Restriction Therapy: How to Improve Your Sleep Quality

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If you're one of the many people struggling with insomnia sleep restriction therapy might be a solution for you. This evidence-based treatment has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at what sleep restriction therapy is, how to implement it into your routine and who can benefit from this helpful technique.

What is Sleep Restriction Therapy?

Sleep restriction therapy is a behavioral treatment designed to improve sleep quality. It works by limiting the amount of time spent in bed to match the individual's circadian rhythm, which helps regulate their natural sleep-wake cycle. The goal of this therapy is to increase the percentage of time spent asleep while reducing the time spent awake in bed.

Sleep restriction therapy is a behavioral treatment that can help individuals with insomnia gradually train themselves to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling refreshed each morning.

Cognitive behavioral therapy may also be combined with sleep restriction therapy for optimal results. This approach addresses negative thoughts and behaviors that may contribute to insomnia, helping patients develop healthier habits and attitudes towards sleep. By following these techniques, individuals with insomnia can gradually train themselves to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling refreshed each morning. Arthur will provide guidance on how best to implement this type of treatment plan during your appointments together as well as additional resources you can use at home for continued success.


Sleep Restriction Therapy is a behavioral treatment for insomnia that limits the amount of time a person spends in bed. This therapy aims to improve sleep quality by increasing sleep drive and resetting the patient's circadian rhythm. Unlike other sleep therapies, such as medication or cognitive behavioral therapy, Sleep Restriction Therapy focuses solely on reducing the amount of time spent in bed.

Sleep Restriction Therapy is recommended for patients who have trouble falling or staying asleep and have tried other treatments without success. Arthur Spielman, one of the pioneers of this therapy, found that it can be effective in improving overall sleep efficiency, reduce wakefulness after sleep onset, and increase total sleep duration. However, it is important to note that Sleep Restriction Therapy should be performed under medical supervision to ensure safety and effectiveness.

How Does it Work?

Sleep Restriction Therapy is a behavioral treatment that aims to improve sleep quality by restricting the amount of time spent in bed. The therapy involves several key steps, including setting a consistent wake-up time and gradually reducing the amount of time spent in bed until sleep efficiency improves.

Despite its effectiveness, there are common misconceptions about Sleep Restriction Therapy, such as the belief that it will lead to chronic fatigue or daytime drowsiness. However, research has shown that this therapy can actually help regulate circadian rhythm and promote cognitive behavioral changes for better sleep hygiene.

To stick to the schedule and maximize results from Sleep Restriction Therapy, patients should consider implementing cognitive techniques like relaxation exercises before bedtime or avoiding naps during the day. Additionally, working with an experienced therapist like Arthur who specializes in sleep disorders can provide guidance and support throughout the process for optimal success rates.


Sleep Restriction Therapy is a behavioral treatment that has been shown to improve both the quality and quantity of sleep. It not only helps patients fall asleep faster but also stay asleep longer, resulting in fewer awakenings during the night. Additionally, Sleep Restriction Therapy has a positive impact on mood and mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The long-term benefits of Sleep Restriction Therapy go beyond improving immediate sleep issues. By helping to regulate the body's circadian rhythm through cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, it can help patients establish healthy sleep habits that can last for years to come. This means better overall physical health as well as improved cognitive function throughout the day, which ultimately leads to an increased sense of wellbeing.

Who Can Benefit from Sleep Restriction Therapy?

Insomnia patients and individuals with other sleep disorders can benefit from sleep restriction therapy. This therapy involves reducing the amount of time spent in bed to increase sleep pressure and improve overall quality of sleep. Shift workers, who often have disrupted circadian rhythms, may also benefit from this type of therapy as it helps regulate their natural sleep-wake cycle. While it may initially be difficult to adjust to a restricted sleeping schedule, studies have shown that consistent implementation of this therapy can lead to significant improvements in both quantity and quality of sleep for those struggling with insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Insomnia Patients

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, causing them to struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. It can lead to daytime fatigue, mood swings and difficulty concentrating. Sleep restriction therapy has proven to be an effective treatment for insomnia patients by limiting the amount of time spent in bed and promoting better quality sleep.

Here are some key steps to implementing sleep restriction therapy as part of your overall treatment plan:

  • Keep a consistent wake-up time every day
  • Use the bedroom only for sleeping and sex
  • Gradually reduce total time spent in bed each night
  • Increase awake time during the day through exercise and other activities

By following these steps consistently over several weeks, you may start noticing improvements in your ability to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and feel more rested upon waking up each morning. While this process may require some patience and persistence, it can ultimately help you regain control over your sleep patterns.

Other Sleep Disorders

Identifying common sleep disorders beyond insomnia that may benefit from SRT:

  • Sleep Apnea: characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, leading to poor quality of sleep and daytime fatigue.
  • Narcolepsy: a neurological disorder marked by excessive daytime drowsiness and sudden bouts of uncontrollable sleep.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): an uncomfortable sensation in the legs causing a strong urge to move them, often disrupting sleep.

Understanding how SRT differs from other therapies used to treat these disorders:

While there are various treatments available for different types of sleep disorders, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for obstructive sleep apnea or medication for RLS or narcolepsy, SRT focuses on improving the quality and duration of nighttime sleep. It involves gradually increasing the time spent asleep each night while maintaining a consistent wake-up time.

Tips for incorporating SRT into a comprehensive treatment approach:

  • Consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new therapy.
  • Keep track of your progress using a daily log and adjust accordingly based on results.
  • Combine SRT with good sleeping habits like avoiding caffeine or alcohol before bedtime and maintaining a relaxing bedroom environment.

Overall, incorporating Sleep Restriction Therapy as part of your comprehensive treatment plan can lead to improved nightly restorative deep-sleep patterns ultimately resulting in better mood regulation, increased energy levels throughout the day.

Shift Workers

Shift workers face unique challenges when it comes to maintaining healthy sleep habits. Irregular work patterns and changing schedules can make it difficult for them to establish a consistent sleep routine. However, Sleep Restriction Therapy (SRT) can be adapted to accommodate such challenges and help shift workers improve their sleep quality.

Success stories of shift workers who have implemented SRT successfully are inspiring and offer hope for others struggling with similar issues. By gradually increasing the amount of time spent in bed each night, they were able to retrain their bodies' natural sleep-wake cycle and improve the quality of their rest. With proper guidance from a healthcare professional, SRT can be an effective tool in managing insomnia or other sleep disorders among shift workers.

Overall, if you're struggling with poor sleep quality, it's worth exploring different treatments and approaches to find what works best for you. From lifestyle changes like regular exercise and avoiding caffeine before bedtime to more intensive therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy or medication, there are many options available. Don't hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider for guidance on how to optimize your sleep habits and ultimately improve your overall health and well-being.