Is insomnia or trouble sleeping at night making it hard for you to get through your days?
Do you find yourself tossing and turning or taking forever to fall asleep? Are you tired of having sleepless nights? Do you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep? Do you sometimes feel like a zombie trying to get through your day after not sleeping well night after night?
All of these things are symptoms of insomnia. While there are a lot of things out there that people try, from over-the-counter medications to prescription medication to hypnosis, research consistently shows that the best treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I.
In CBT-I, you and your therapist will work together to learn more about what kind of insomnia you have or what your primary symptoms are. Your therapist will have you complete a sleep diary every week as well as some simple questionnaires. The sleep diary combined with the assessments will give your therapist good insight into how much trouble you have falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early. They will also gain insight into how much more sleep you need. Together, you will then put together a treatment plan for tackling the insomnia. Your treatment plan for CBT-I will include things like setting a sleep schedule, changing some of your pre-bedtime and morning behaviors, and reducing non-helpful thoughts that may get in the way of your getting a good night’s sleep.
Why should you try CBT-I?
Many people wonder why they should try CBT-I when it takes a bit more work than just popping a pill. Research has shown time and time again that CBT-I is just as effective as medication in the short-term for treating insomnia and even MORE effective than medication in the long-term for treating insomnia. This means that with CBT-I, you are more likely to maintain a healthy sleep pattern that you would be if you only relied on medications. In addition, doing CBT-I, which usually only requires a few sessions, is more cost-effective than taking medications regularly. The primary reason to try CBT-I is because it works! If you are willing to put in the time and effort, CBT-I can truly cure your insomnia.
How long will you be in treatment for insomnia?
CBT-I is considered brief treatment. Many patients feel better in as little as 3 weeks and most patients are able to stop treatment for insomnia after about 6-8 sessions.
Can you do CBT-I if you are dealing with other things like depression, anxiety, cancer, pain, or sleep apnea?
Yes! That is one of the great things about CBT-I; it can be incorporated into other treatment. With appropriate modifications, CBT-I can work for just about anyone.
What can you try on your own to help your sleep today?
There are a number of things to try that may help your sleep. Here are some tips:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day – even on the weekends. Even though this can be hard to do, especially on the weekends, it can help regulate your internal clock which may help you fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
- Exercise regularly. Even a little bit of exercise every day can help with sleep. One important thing to keep in mind is that many people may need to avoid intense exercise at night because that may actually make it harder to fall asleep.
- Don’t nap during the day. Even though a nap may feel good since you’re so tired, it can actually make your insomnia worse. If you feel like you need to nap to help you get through your day, limit it to 20 to 30 minutes. A power nap like that may help energize you enough to get through the day without disrupting your sleep. Any longer than that and it will likely make it that much harder to sleep at night.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants close to bedtime. It can take a while for the effects of caffeine and other stimulants to leave your body so if you have them too close to bedtime, you may have a harder time falling asleep. This includes things like coffee, tea, soda, and nicotine.
Doing it on my own didn’t work. How do I find a therapist to treat my insomnia?
If you feel like you’ve tried everything and it isn’t working or you want some help getting a better night’s sleep, contact me to set up an initial phone consultation. We can discuss whether CBT-I is right for you and what treatment will look like.