Sleep Compression

This is part three of a four part series or articles about sleep problems.
Part 1: Can’t Sleep
Part 2: Serious Sleep
Part3: Sleep Compression
Part4: Sleep Solutions

Reflect On Life To Find A Pattern
Reflect On Life To Find A Pattern



This article gives a description of sleep compression therapy which is a successful therapy for those with insomnia.

I’m a Clinical Hypnotherapist amongst other things and I have some experience with helping people sleep. I’ve also made use of all the solutions that I write about here so I can tell you how well they work and what it feels like.

If you have things on your mind that are stopping you sleeping then there are a number of straight forward things that you can do. One of the issues is that when you keep things in your head they go round and round and it seems like an endless list of woes and heartache that follow each other around.

Write Things Down

Writing things down. Keeping a journal or diary can be a really good solution to a lot of these types of problems. When we think about things it tends to happen rapidly and we don’t have to explain anything fully to ourselves so we just accept problems as problems. When you write them down you have to slow down the process and formulate words and pictures that mean something. That’s one of the rules that we accept for writing. You might find things that are:

  • personal problems
  • ideas that you are working through
  • work related issues and ideas
  • relationship or general people interactions

Whatever they are then write them down and be satisfied that you have described them fully. Read them back so you know the things that you know that you have in hand. It sounds too easy but it can solve a lot of those things that go around in our heads. I do this a lot and it short circuits a lot of problems and raises some interesting ideas.

Sleep Compression

One solution that started my own recovery is a thing called sleep compression. I read a book by Colin A Espie called Overcoming Insomnia and Sleep Problems. It’s a 6 week course and it helped me. It ultimately describes sleep compression. Personally I found sleep compression a bit brutal but there’s no denying that it really works. It gave me a solution that changed my life, and I don’t say that lightly.

Using the sleep diary information that you generate you will be able to see over a 10 day period (or longer) how much sleep you need.

For a 10 day period add up the number of hours sleep you get and divide by 10. Now that’s your baseline requirement for sleep. Decide what time you get up in a morning, subtract the number of hours sleep you need and go to bed at that time. Incidentally I started out going to bed at 2:00 AM and getting up at 6:30 AM. You have to keep that up at weekends too. The killer comes after your first weekend when you would normally have had a lie in to catch up with that lack of sleep, it will be tough but if you stick with it, you will succeed.

The rules are simple if you are awake for more than 20 minutes you have to get up and do something till you are sleepy then go back to bed.

If you start on a Monday then I would plan to take some days off as holiday or sick in the following week. That first weekend will hurt and the Monday will feel awful, or at least that was my experience. By Wednesday of the second week I achieved my first full night’s sleep and it felt good.

Sleep efficiency is described as minutes spent sleeping divided byminutes spent in bed multiplied by 100.

Your aim is to achieve a sleep efficiency of 90 or better for seven days running. When you do you can go to bed 30 minutes earlier. When you reach a reasonable amount of time in bed for you just carry on with it. It’s not a quick or easy cure but it is effective.

My experience of this is that it is a really important start of getting the problem of Insomnia in control. There are other things that you can do but if your mind is resistant to other methods then this will get it under control.

In Part 4 I cover some more friendly sleep solutions.

See the book:   Overcoming Insomnia and Sleep Problems by Colin A Espie for a complete description of sleep compression and a CBT (Cognitive behavioural Therapy) based approach to sleep.

If you have problems getting to sleep or getting back to sleep in the Portsmouth / Fareham / Portchester area then you can call me on 0793 464 0831.


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