Everyone has trouble sleeping sometimes. Maybe you ate too much at dinner and it isn’t sitting right, maybe you can’t stop thinking about the work emails you know you need to respond to in the morning, maybe you can’t remember if you turned off the oven after cooking dinner. This is normal and happens to everyone; there is no need to worry. When this happens several times a week for more than 1 week, it’s time to think about ways to help yourself.
About 10% of Americans suffer from insomnia, which means difficulty sleeping but can look different for different people. You may have a hard time falling asleep, you may have a hard time staying asleep, or you may find yourself waking up earlier than your body really wants to. Often, you wake up feeling tired and rarely feel refreshed in the morning. Many people with insomnia experience more than one of these symptoms. Poor sleep, particularly when it happens regularly, can lead to a worsened mood, increased stress levels, slower thought processing, and a decrease in your ability to take care of yourself or your family.
Medication for insomnia gets a lot of attention for a few reasons: it feels like an easy quick-fix, many people don’t have access to other treatment, and many doctors don’t know that there are better treatments out there. The unfortunate truth is that sleep medication often doesn’t work as well as people want.
The good news is that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, or CBT-I, has been proven to be an effective treatment for insomnia. Having a good night’s sleep can make a huge difference in someone’s life and CBT-I can help you achieve that good night’s sleep. The short-term treatment focuses on helping you identify different thoughts and behaviors that are interfering with your sleep. Each week, you and the therapist will work together to make changes and will then evaluate how they impact your sleep until you come up with the perfect plan tailored to your needs.
To learn more about CBT-I, check out this recent NPR piece or this article from the National Sleep Foundation. And if you think you may benefit from CBT-I or want to learn more about similar services, please contact me!