Sleep Restriction Therapy for Insomnia

Status: Strong Research Support


Sleep restriction therapy utilizes a form of systematic sleep deprivation in which a sleep window is established and maintained to allow the body to (re)learn proper sleeping dynamics and increase sleep efficiency. For example, if a patient reports spending about 8 hours per night in bed, but only sleeps 6 of those hours, the amount of time in bed would be reduced to closely match the amount of time the patient typically sleeps in bed (in this case, 6 hours). Periodic adjustments to this sleep window are made contingent upon sleep efficiency, until an optimal sleep duration is reached.

Key References (in reverse chronological order)

  • Morin, C., Bootzin, R., Buysse, D., Edinger, J., Espie, C., & Lichstein, K. (2006). Psychological and behavioral treatment of insomnia: Update of the recent evidence (1998-2004). Sleep, 29, 1398-1414.
  • Lichstein, K.L., Riedel, B.W., Wilson, N.M., Lester, K.W., & Aguillard, R.N (2001). Relaxation and sleep compression for late-life insomnia: a placebo controlled trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 69, 227-239.
  • Friedman, L., Benson, K., Noda, A., Zarcone, V., Wicks, D., O’Connell, K., et al (2000). An actigraphic comparison of sleep restriction and sleep hygiene treatments for insomnia in older adults. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 13,17-27.

Clinical Resources

  • Morin, C.M., & Espie, C. (2003). Insomnia: A clinical guide to assessment and treatment. New York: Kluwer Academic.
  • Wohlgemuth, W.K., & Edinger, J.D. (2000). Sleep restriction therapy. In Lichstein, K.L., & Morin, C.M. (Eds.), Treatment of late-life insomnia (pp. 147-166). London: Sage Publications.
  • Morin, C.M. (1993). Insomnia: Psychological assessment and management. New York: Guilford Press.

Training Opportunities

The Sleep Research Society Trainee Manual provides a variety of resources on training opportunities in basic clinical sleep research and sleep medicine. To access all trainee resources, click on ‘Show All Trainee Programs’ from the following link: