Summary: Monitoring the time while you’re trying to sleep can exacerbate insomnia and increase the use of sleep aids.
The study looked at nearly 5,000 sleep clinic patients and found that the stress of estimating sleep durations significantly impeded the ability to fall asleep. Consequently, frustration led to a higher likelihood of using sleeping pills.
The study suggests that a simple behavioral intervention, such as avoiding checking the clock, can help relieve insomnia.
- Watching the time while trying to fall asleep can worsen insomnia symptoms and increase the use of sleep aids.
- The study suggests that a simple behavioral intervention, such as avoiding checking the clock, can help treat insomnia.
- Insomnia affects between 4 and 22% of adults and is associated with long-term health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.
Source: Indiana University
Looking at the clock while trying to fall asleep exacerbates insomnia and the use of sleep aids, according to a study by an Indiana University professor – and a small change could help people sleep better.
The research, led by 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, focuses on a sample of nearly 5,000 patients presenting for care in a sleep clinic.
Insomnia affects between 4 and 22% of adults and is associated with long-term health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.
Participants completed questionnaires about the severity of their insomnia, their use of sleeping pills and the amount of time they spent monitoring their own behavior while trying to fall asleep. They were also asked to report any psychiatric diagnoses. The researchers conducted mediation analyzes to determine how the factors influence each other.
“We found that time-watching behavior primarily has an effect on sleeping pill use because it exacerbates symptoms of insomnia,” Dawson said.
“People worry about not getting enough sleep, then they start estimating how long it will take them to go back to sleep and when they need to get up. It’s not the kind of activity that helps make it easier to fall asleep – the more stressed you are, the harder it will be to fall asleep.
As frustration with insomnia increases, people are more likely to use sleeping pills in an attempt to control their sleep.
The results are published in The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. Additional co-authors are Dr. Barry Krakow, professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Mercer University School of Medicine; Patricia Haynes, associate professor at the University of Arizona’s Mel and Enid Zuckerman School of Public Health; and Darlynn Rojo-Wissar, postdoctoral fellow at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School.
Dawson said research indicates that a simple behavioral intervention could help people struggling with insomnia. He gives the same advice to every new patient when they first meet.
“One thing people might do is turn around or cover their clock, ditch the smartwatch, put the phone away so they just don’t check the time,” Dawson said. “There is no place where looking at the clock is particularly useful.”
With 15 years of research and clinical experience in the field of sleep, Dawson is interested in comparing individuals’ sleep experiences with what is happening simultaneously in their brains. He trains and supervises doctoral students in the clinical sciences program of the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences.
About this sleep research news
Author: Barbara Brosher
Source: Indiana University
Contact: Barbara Brosher – Indiana University
Picture: Image is credited to Neuroscience News
Original research: Free access.
“Use of sleep aids in insomnia: the role of time-monitoring behavior” by Spencer Dawson et al. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders
Use of sleep aids in insomnia: the role of time-monitoring behavior
Objective: Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription sleeping pills are frequently used as treatments for chronic insomnia, despite the risks and limited long-term effectiveness. Investigating the mechanisms underlying this predilection for drug therapy could uncover strategies to reduce dependence on sleeping pills. The objective of this study was to determine how time monitoring behavior (TMB; clock monitoring) and associated frustration may interact with insomnia symptoms to lead to the use of sleep aids.
Methods : Patients (N=4,886) presenting for care at a private and community sleep medical center between May 2003 and October 2013 completed the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) and time-monitoring behavior. 10 (TMB-10) and reported their frequency of sleep medication use (over-the-counter and prescription, separately). Mediation analyzes examined how clock surveillance and associated frustration might be associated with insomnia symptoms and medication use.
Results: The relationship between BMT and the use of sleeping pills was significantly explained by ISI (P< 0.05), as BMR (particularly the associated frustration) appears to worsen insomnia, which in turn leads to the use of sleep aids. Similarly, but to a lesser extent, the relationship between ISI and the use of sleeping pills has been explained by TMB, in that ISI can lead to an increase in TMB, which in turn can lead to the use of sleep aids.
Conclusion : TMB and the frustration it engenders can perpetuate a negative cycle of insomnia and the use of sleep aids. Future longitudinal and interventional research is needed to examine the course of these clinical symptoms and behaviors and to test whether decreasing frustration by limiting TMB reduces propensity for pharmacotherapy.