The site: Getting Stronger
has an overview of Sleep Restriction Therapy
Blogpost: A cure for insomnia?
It's worth reading the piece and the comments.
The protocol. Here is how Sleep Restriction Therapy works:
- Determine a fixed time to wake up every morning and set your alarm for that time. This is an absolute requirement: when the alarm goes off you must get out of bed immediately with no snoozing or exceptions. If necessary, use a loud alarm and put it across the room. Some researchers find that exposure to bright morning light upon waking is important to the success of SRT.
- Determine the minimum number of hours you need to sleep. This is usually done by keeping a sleep log for several nights to figure out the average number of hours you are actually sleeping. If you are in bed for 8 hours but are awake for 2 of those hours, then your sleep requirement is 6 hours. In general, the minimum sleep requirment should never be less than 4.5 hours.
- Do not go to bed or even go into your bedroom until the official bedtime. If your wake time is 6 a.m. and your initial sleep time is five hours, that means you cannot go into your bedroom to sleep until 1 a.m. You have to keep yourself awake between 6 a.m. and 1 a..m. the next day. No napping, lying down or nodding off is allowed. This is difficult and can produce drowsiness and grumpiness during the initial days of treatment. In some versions of SRT, slightly longer hours are allowed on weekends as a “reward” for making progress.
- Measure your “sleep efficiency” each night. Calculate sleep efficiency as the hours you actually sleep expressed as a percentage of the total hours you are in the bedroom. To track sleep efficiency, keep a sleep log — a record of when you go to bed and wake up during the night, noting the related circumstances and activities. Your goal is 90% or better sleep efficiency. An alternative method is to use a home sleep monitor such as that made by Zeo. The Zeo sleep monitor is an affordable and comfortble “headband” that wirelessly transmits data on your different sleep phases and sleep efficiency to a bedside “alarm clock”, with the ability to view your progress on your PC. I’ve found the Zeo to be very useful in analyzing sleep patterns. It reveals the inner workings of your sleep in a way that a manual sleep log cannot.
- Adjust your sleep time. If your sleep efficiency is greater than 90%, increase your sleep time by moving your bedtime 15 minutes earlier. If your sleep time is less than 85%, delay your bedtime by 15 minutes.
- Allow your sleep to normalize. Continue the treatment until your sleep time can be increased to ”normal” sleep time of 6-8 hours with at least 90% sleep efficiency and subjective feeling of restfulness upon waking and during the day.
It's worth noting that the sleep monitor the author mentions is no longer available - I don't know if people can suggest useful alternative apps?