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What is the 15 Minute Sleep Rule?

A woman tosses and turns in bed having trouble falling asleep.

Not all of us can be lucky enough to fall asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow. Laying there, staring at the ceiling, is arguably one of the more frustrating moments of the night. And that’s why you shouldn’t do it—at least according to the 15-minute rule.

The 15-minute rule for sleep from Dr. Bryony Sheaves and Professor Colin Espie from Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute recommends getting out of bed if you can’t fall asleep within 15 minutes.

While this might seem counterintuitive—after all won’t you just become more awake if you get up?—Sheaves and Espie posit that continuing to stay in bed, bemoaning your lack of sleep, can affect your brain. Essentially, your bed will become a negative place where you’re frustrated and anxious instead of the safe, relaxing space it should be. To prevent this from happening, get back up.

Hatch Restore

Once you've got a good wind-down routine, try a new wake-up routine with a Hatch Restore.

Now, that doesn’t mean you should go for a jog or start downing pints of ice cream. Instead, have a set wind-down routine and implement it. Whether that’s reading, having a mug of tea, or doing a meditation, relax until you feel sleepy again. Then, go back to bed and try again.

The only thing you shouldn’t do is engage with electronics. Don’t turn on the next episode of your current binge-watch or start scrolling through social media. The light can suppress melatonin production and make things worse. So keep things simple in your wind-down routine.

While it might seem odd to get out of bed once you’ve decided to go to sleep, getting up and abiding by the 15-minute rule might just be the trick to falling asleep at night.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is the Assignments Editor at LifeSavvy. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer with a focus on beauty and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Allure, and Hello Giggles. Read Full Bio »
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