Trouble With Insomnia? Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy


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Has it been a long time since you’ve slept like a baby? Insomnia can set in at any age, though it’s most common in older adults. But no matter your age, if you have insomnia, it’s likely frustrating and definitely tiring.

This common sleep disorder causes you to have trouble either falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking too early. Insomnia can be short-term, or it can bother you for months on end.

You may have heard of and even tried a variety of strategies for getting a good night’s sleep. But what if you’re still counting sheep every night? Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is something you might want to consider.

About Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of counseling often called talk therapy or psychotherapy. With CBT, you work with a therapist to talk through thinking that is negative or inaccurate so you can respond to challenging situations or stressful life situations more effectively.

CBT is used in a wide variety of circumstances, from helping to treat mental health disorders such as depression, to facing fears such as needle phobia. And it is used to successfully treat insomnia. You might hear it referred to as CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia).

P-W-WMN94737-Insomnia-Behavioral-Therapy-sm-350What Happens During a CBT-I Session?

A therapist will work with you to uncover the cause of your insomnia. You may have unhealthy fears, beliefs, or attitudes about sleep. The therapy is structured to help you overcome these negative thoughts, relieve the anxiety you have about insomnia, and find strategies that will help you get a good night’s sleep. The goal is to create new habits that will promote more healthy sleep patterns.

During therapy, you may be asked to:

  • Go through a series of sleep assessments to determine your level of sleepiness and potential causes for it
  • Keep a sleep diary. This helps identify your sleep patterns and practices.
  • Make tangible changes to your sleep behaviors. This might include adjusting your sleep and wake times or phasing out daytime naps.

Along with these approaches, your therapist will help you identify lifestyle practices and habits that may be disrupting your sleep so you can work to overcome them.

Does It Really Work?

Yes! Studies have shown success in 70 to 80 percent of those who underwent CBT-I. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people with insomnia who went through online therapy sessions once a week were able to improve their quality of sleep within six weeks — keeping in mind, of course, that results can vary since people respond to therapy differently.

CBT-I is offered in in-person individual or group sessions, or you might be able to find online therapy. Weekly sessions are often recommended.

Once you conquer insomnia, avoid slipping back into old bad habits. A great benefit of therapy are the learnings you take with you. Should insomnia sneak up on you again, you’ll have techniques to combat it. With sleep being so crucial to overall good health, insomnia isn’t something you want to ignore.

If you think therapy might help with your sleepless nights, talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist about it.

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Small Steps: Get enough sleep.
The lower you dip below seven hours of sleep at night, the more you risk having a fatigue-related driving accident.