Cognitive Behavioural Therapy For Insomnia

Insomnia is a very common sleeping disorder that affects 60 million Americans alone. The research and treatment behind it has grown and varied over the years but one seems to be the most popular up and coming treatment- cognitive behavioural therapy.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep and can cause you to wake up too early, having difficulty falling back asleep.  

There are different types of Insomnia including: 

  1. Acute Insomnia – A brief period of difficulty sleeping
  2. Chronic Insomnia – Long-term pattern of difficulty sleeping
  3. Comorboid Insomnia – Insomnia that is paired with another condition
  4. Onset Insomnia – difficulty falling asleep at the beginning of the night
  5. Maintenance Insomnia – The inability to stay asleep

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) For Insomnia?

It is a structured program designed to help you identify and replace thoughts and behaviours that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote healthy sleeping. This type of therapy does not use sleeping pills and takes a more holistic therapeutic approach. Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to help explain the misconceptions of sleep and insomnia, it takes the approach of education and practice to help reconstruct the way you think and the habits you do that surround your sleeping and insomnia patterns.

How Does CBT for Insomnia Work?

Much like regular CBT for OCD or Anxiety, CBT for Insomnia helps to teach participants to recognize and change belief patterns that affect the ability to sleep well. There are many different techniques within CBT for insomnia that will help you get better sleep and worry less.  

  1. Stimulus Control Therapy – Removes factors that make your mind resist sleep. 
  2. Sleep Restriction – Reduces the time you spend in bed, causing partial sleep deprivation, making you more tired the next night.  
  3. Sleep Hygiene – Changing basic lifestyle habits that influence sleep. For example, smoking, drinking alcohol or having caffeine late in the day and lack of exercise. This also provides nice tips and tricks to help you unwind before bed.
  4. Sleep environment Improvement – Offers techniques to create a comfortable sleep environment. Lowering your room temperature, sleeping in a dark room, not checking your clock etc. 
  5. Relaxation Training – Training to help calm your mind and body before going to sleep.This could include Muscle Relaxation Therapy.
  6. Remaining Passively Awake – Avoiding any effort to fall asleep. This therapy helps you learn how to let go of worry that causes you stress when trying to fall asleep. Once you stop worrying about trying to help yourself fall asleep you will actually be able to do so.

CBT for insomnia is recognized by the NIH consensus and State-of-the-Science Statement as a first-line treatment and was found to be as effective if not more effective for insomnia than any other technique or medication. Studies have also shown that people who suffer from poor sleep prefer an approach like CBT over others. 

Taking your biological clock into consideration is very important for the effectiveness of CBT for insomnia. When one goes to sleep and wakes up it should relate and follow their own circadian clock, meaning when their time does not match up with proper sleep habits, the therapist can start to change the body’s circadian rhythm with timed light exposure. This is important to note because the body’s biological clock must follow proper sleeping patterns to be successful.  

CBT for Insomnia Instead of Medication

Many sleep medications out on the market work but usually work for short periods of time or are for short-term treatments, with harrowing side effects. They provide immediate relief but do not account for the fact that Insomnia is mainly long term and effects many parts of life. For those who have longer term sleeping issues, CBT tackles the underlying issues and causes of insomnia rather than just relieving the symptoms. With CBT there are no side effects and there is less worry about being dependent on pills.

CBT for Insomnia and Other Illnesses

Insomnia is connected to many other physical and mental health issues. Consistent lack of sleep can have a higher risk on other health conditions. Some medications whether over the counter or prescribed can also contribute to your insomnia so it is important to take side effects into consideration. 

Who Benefits?

CBT for insomnia can benefit almost anyone who has sleeping problems. It can also help people who have mental health disorders. CBT requires lots of practice and commitment but has long lasting affects that will benefit you in the long run.