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Don’t do this if you’re struggling to fall asleep


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Bloomington, IN — Repeatedly checking the clock while you’re trying to fall asleep can compound insomnia and lead to greater reliance on sleep aids, results of a recent study show.

Researchers asked nearly 4,900 patients at a community-based, private sleep medical center to complete a questionnaire about the severity of their insomnia, use of sleep medication and the time they spent monitoring their own behavior while trying to fall asleep.

They found that as respondents’ frustration over sleeplessness grew, their use of over-the-counter and prescription sleep medications increased. In addition, when they expressed concern over not getting enough sleep, the respondents often focused on how long it would take them to fall asleep and when they’d have to wake up. That led to added stress, the researchers say, and made it harder to fall asleep.

As much as 22% of U.S. adults experience insomnia, which is linked to health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and depression, according to an Indiana University press release.

Spencer Dawson, lead study author and the associate director of clinical training in IU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, said simple changes in the bedroom can help those with insomnia.

“One thing that people could do would be to turn around or cover up their clock, ditch the smartwatch, and get the phone away so they’re simply not checking the time,” he said. “There’s not any place where watching the clock is particularly helpful.”

The study was published online in the journal The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders

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