Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

If you can’t sleep due to insomnia, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be an effective treatment for you. CBT has been proven to work in treating people with insomnia, even for people with severe or chronic problems sleeping.

How does CBT work?
Cognitive behavioral therapy improves your sleep habits and patterns by changing your thoughts (cognition) and actions (behavior). Studies have shown that these psychological and behavioral factors play an important role in insomnia and that CBT can be effective in treating them. In fact, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that CBT can help improve sleep, with long-term benefits. CBT studies have found that most people benefit from the therapy a year later.

For example, you might think that you need at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Then, if you go to bed too late one night, you may stay awake thinking about how little sleep you’re going to get. (People with insomnia often sleep more than they think they do.) Or, perhaps you’re engaging in behaviors that can affect your sleep (“sleep hygiene”), like drinking coffee too close to bedtime, or not getting enough exercise. CBT can help change how you think and act about sleep by reprograming the part of your brain that controls the sleep-wake cycle.

Is CBT right for me?
In our experience, CBT can help many different types of people sleep more soundly, including:

  • People who take sleeping pills
  • Older adults who take sleep medication
  • Patients with physical issues, including Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Adults with insomnia (an inability to get enough rest)

What can I expect?
CBT patients usually come in for a series of short (half-hour) sessions with one of our trained sleep specialists. Some of the activities you can expect include:

  • Cognitive control and psychotherapy – helping you control or eliminate negative thoughts and beliefs that can keep you awake
  • Sleep restriction – figuring out how much time you actually need to sleep, then matching that to the time you’re spending in bed (reducing the amount of time you spend in bed without sleeping will actually help you sleep)
  • Remain passively awake – the goal here is to not fall asleep, so you can eliminate any anxiety you may feel about falling asleep easily; this practice is also called paradoxical intention
  • Stimulus control – changing your mind so you only have positive associations with the bedroom environment and getting into bed
  • Sleep hygiene – adjusting some of your lifestyle habits that influence sleep, including avoiding negative habits (smoking, drinking alcohol late in the day, etc.) and encouraging actions that will help you sleep better (turning off electronics an hour before bedtime, etc.)
  • Relaxation training – helps you relax, and reduce (or even eliminate) thoughts that disturb your sleep; approaches include meditation, hypnosis and muscle relaxation.
  • Biofeedback – by measuring certain signs from your body (such as muscle tension and brain wave frequency), we can show you how to help control them

CBT does require some effort on your part – it’s not as easy as simply taking a pill. But CBT is an excellent approach for many people, and may be the key to helping you sleep better.

For more information about CBT, call us at (585) 385-6070 or contact us today.