Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia aims to improve sleep habits and behaviors. We will teach you to recognize and change beliefs that affect your ability to sleep. For instance, this may include learning how to control or eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep you awake. Then your therapist will help you develop good sleep habits and avoid behaviors that keep you from sleeping well.
Depending on your needs, your therapist may recommend some of following popular techniques:
Stimulus control therapy This method helps remove factors that condition the mind to resist sleep. For example, you might be coached to set a consistent bedtime and wake time and avoid naps, use the bed only for sleep and sex, and leave the bedroom if you can't go to sleep within 20 minutes, only returning when you're sleepy.
Sleep restriction Lying in bed when you're awake can become a habit that leads to poor sleep. This treatment decreases the time you spend in bed, causing partial sleep deprivation, which makes you more tired the next night. Once your sleep has improved, your time in bed is gradually increased.
Sleep hygiene This method of therapy involves changing basic lifestyle habits that influence sleep, such as smoking or drinking too much caffeine late in the day, drinking too much alcohol, or not getting regular exercise. It also includes tips that help you sleep better, such as ways to wind down an hour or two before bedtime.
Sleep environment improvement This offers ways that you can create a comfortable sleep environment, such as keeping your bedroom quiet, dark and cool, not having a TV in the bedroom, and hiding the clock from view.
Relaxation training This method helps you calm your mind and body. Approaches include meditation, imagery, muscle relaxation and others.
Remaining passively awake Also called paradoxical intention, this involves avoiding any effort to fall asleep. Paradoxically, worrying that you can't sleep can actually keep you awake. Letting go of this worry can help you relax and make it easier to fall asleep.
Biofeedback This method allows you to observe biological signs such as heart rate and muscle tension and shows you how to adjust them. Your sleep specialist may have you take a biofeedback device home to record your daily patterns. This information can help identify patterns that affect sleep.
The most effective treatment approach may combine several of these methods.
We all have trouble sleeping sometimes. Sometimes it's due to stress, too much caffeine, excessive worry, and sometimes it's due to unresolved trauma. Whatever the reason our experts are here to help.
Unlike medication, CBT addresses the underlying causes of insomnia rather than just relieving symptoms. But it takes time — and effort — to make it work.