Looking at clock while trying to sleep worsens insomnia, says study
Indiana (US), May 22: Keeping an eye on the time as you try to fall asleep increases insomnia and the need for sleep medicines, according to an Indiana University researcher. But, a small change could improve your sleep quality, the study added.
Spencer Dawson, clinical assistant professor and associate director of clinical training in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the College of Arts and Sciences, is the study's principal author.
The study focuses on a sample of over 5,000 people who seek therapy at a sleep clinic. In adults, the prevalence of insomnia ranges from 4 to 22%, and it has been connected to chronic conditions such as diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease.
Participants completed questionnaires about their level of insomnia, whether they use sleep aids, and how much time they spend observing their own behaviour while trying to sleep. They were also asked for a psychological diagnosis. Researchers used mediation analyses to determine how the variables affected one another.
"We found time monitoring behaviour mainly has an effect on sleep medication use because it exacerbates insomnia symptoms," Dawson said, adding "People are concerned that they're not getting enough sleep, then they start estimating how long it will take them to fall back asleep and when they have to be up. That is not the sort of activity that's helpful in facilitating the ability to fall asleep -- the more stressed out you are, the harder time you're going to have falling asleep."
People are more inclined to take sleep aids in an attempt to acquire control over their sleep as their dissatisfaction with sleeplessness develops.
According to Dawson, the research suggests that a simple behavioural intervention could help persons suffering from insomnia.
"One thing that people could do would be to turn around or cover up their clock, ditch the smart watch, get the phone away so they're simply not checking the time. There's not any place where watching the clock is particularly helpful."
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