Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia is a structured program that helps one identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep. This form of therapy helps one overcome the underlying causes of their sleep problems rather than masking it with medication.
The cognitive part of the therapy teaches you to recognize and change beliefs that affect your ability to sleep. This type of therapy can help you control or eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep you awake. The behavioral part of the therapy helps you develop good sleep habits and avoid behaviors that keep you from sleeping well.
Depending on your needs, the following techniques may be incorporated:
- Stimulus control therapy. This method helps remove factors that condition your 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 reduces 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.
Oftentimes, insomnia is also coupled with other mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety. If you or someone you know is dealing with any of the above, please don’t hesitate to reach out and connect at Healing Path Counselling Services.
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