There are a lot of people from all over the world who suffer from insomnia. For these people, effective treatment for their sleep disorder is essential to help them fall asleep easier and stay asleep throughout the night.
However, one of the safest and most effective treatments for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy, also called CBT-I. This is a nondrug treatment usually recommended for chronic sleep problems.
CBT-I is a structured program that helps people who deal with sleep problems identify and replace both behavior and thoughts that cause it. It also promotes sleep and helps you overcome the underlying causes of sleep problems.
To determine the best treatment for your sleep disorder, the sleep therapist might recommend you keep a sleep diary for about 2 weeks.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
CBT-I consists of 2 parts: cognitive and behavioral. The cognitive part teaches the patient to identify and change the thoughts and beliefs that affect the ability to sleep. It can help control and remove all negative thoughts that keep the patient awake. On the other hand, the behavioral part helps develop good sleeping habits and stay away from behaviors that prevent a person from getting a good night’s sleep.
A patient might be recommended one of the following CBT-I techniques:
- Sleep restriction: reduces the time you spend in bed. This means that you will feel more sleep-deprived and it will be easier for you to fall asleep at night, Lying in bed when you're awake can become a habit that leads to poor sleep. As soon as your sleep has improved, your time in bed is gradually increased.
- Stimulus control therapy: helps remove factors that make your mind to resist sleep. This might require you got to bed and wake up at the same time every day and stay away from naps throughout the day.
- Sleep hygiene: involves changing basic lifestyle habits that make sleep worse, such as smoking or drinking caffeine and alcohol late in the day.
- Relaxation training: helps calm your mind and body through imagery, meditation, and muscle relaxation.
- Sleep environment improvement: helps create a cozy sleep environment by making your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.
- Biofeedback: allows you to observe biological signs and teaches you how to adjust them. You might be given a biofeedback device to use and how to monitor your daily patterns.
For cognitive-behavioral therapy to be effective, your sleep therapist might recommend combining several of these methods.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy vs. Pills
Most people when they experience insomnia decide to take some sleep mediations to help them fall asleep. However, using pills for insomnia can and should only be used as a short-term treatment. Some new sleep medications can be used for a longer time. Nevertheless, they are not recommended as an insomnia treatment.
On the other hand, CBT-I is the most suitable treatment for people who have long-term sleep problems. Likewise, it is a great option for people who don’t find medications effective.
Pills relieve the symptoms, while CBT-I addresses the underlying causes of insomnia. Sometimes, even a combination of sleep medication and CBT-I may be the best approach.
Anyone with sleep problems can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, including people with primary insomnia and people with physical issues, e.g. mental health disorder or chronic pain. The best thing from CBT-I is that is has no negative effects and the effects seem to last.