26/01/2011 05:22 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Can't Sleep? Get Out Of Bed, Say Experts

Have you ever stared at the ceiling in the middle of the night because you can't get to sleep? Around one in three adults in the UK suffer from insomnia to some extent or another. For the lucky ones the problem is relatively short-lived, but others have chronic insomnia that affects them on an ongoing basis.

woman-in-bed-insomnia Insomnia can be frustrating, but getting out of bed could help say experts. Photo: Getty, Lena Marh

But the next time you have difficulties dropping off to sleep, forget counting sheep. According to US scientists writing in the Archives of Internal Medicine, spending less time in bed could help.

The study involved 79 volunteers who suffered from chronic insomnia, some of whom were shown how to restrict the amount of time they spent in bed. And by the end of four weeks, two out of three of those volunteers said they were sleeping better. One even beat their insomnia altogether.

So why does getting out of bed help when you can't nod off? According to the researchers, if you regularly have sleep problems you may spend a lot of time lying in bed worrying about the fact that you're not sleeping. In other words, you set yourself up for having insomnia in the first place.

So going to bed when you're not tired isn't going to help at all. The researchers even claim that you should get out of bed if you wake up in the middle of the night and find you can't get back to sleep easily. The idea is to break the association between lying in bed and being awake.

Need some more advice? Try our natural remedies for insomnia or check out Dannii Minogue's tips on how to get your beauty sleep.

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