How Cognitive Behavior Therapy Can Help Your Sleeping Problems

 

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Insomnia comes from the Latin word “want to sleep” thus the problem lies in trouble falling asleep, unable to stay asleep, interruptions during sleep and not able to get back to sleep. There are many therapies available for insomnia. In fact, some practitioners prescribe sleeping pills to those who have an acute case of insomnia. Sleep experts are in consensual agreement that the first line of treatment should be a safe, effective and nondrug modality. A tested treatment for chronic sleep problems is cognitive behavioral therapy.

The cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is a structured type of program that aids a person in identifying and replacing behaviors and thoughts that most likely cause or worsen sleep problems. Unlike pharmacological intervention, this therapy aims to overcome the primary causes of your sleep problems. Cognitive behavioral therapy works under the supervision of a sleep therapist. The therapist will use various techniques that will teach you to identify, change or control negative thoughts and anxiety that keep you awake.

While brushing your teeth before bed is a good habit and one that may help signal an end to your day, sleep hygiene isn’t just about cleanliness. Rather, it’s about all of the habits and agendas you maintain around your bedtime routine and night of sleep. — Megan MacCutcheon, LPC

Sleep hygiene

The therapy includes modification of essential lifestyle habits that have an impact on sleeping like smoking and consumption of caffeine, alcohol and poor exercise routine as well as ways to relax or wind down hours before bedtime.

 

Sleep environment improvement

 

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Creation of a comfortable and relaxing sleeping environment which maintains the amount of light in the room, dark and cold, no TV, no gadgets and clock in plain view.

It has affected a lot of her interpersonal relationships, and comes up the most often in moments where she could/would benefit from asking for help. — Meredith Brown, LCSW

Stimulus control therapy

It is the removal of factors that condition the mind to avoid sleep. For instance, coaching may involve having a consistent wake and sleep time, usage of bed for sex and sleep exclusively, and establish a rule to get out of the bedroom within 20 minutes if rest doesn’t come.

 

Relaxation training

This includes activities that would calm your body and mind for inducing sleep.  Approaches include yoga, meditation, muscle relaxation, imagery, music therapy, etc.

 

Biofeedback

This technique involves observing your biological signs such as breathing, heart rate, muscle tension and ways on how to adjust them. The specialist might have a biofeedback device at your home to document your daily patterns. The data can be helpful in identifying trends affecting sleep.

 

Remaining passively awake

This is also known as paradoxical intention which involves avoidance of any efforts directed to fall asleep. Worrying that you can’t sleep can further lead to being awake. Let go of this worry and let sleep come naturally.

 

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Sleep pills and medications can be given for short-term management in cases where immediate relief of insomnia is needed maybe in cases of high stress or grief. There are also some newer medications which can be taken for more extended use but often, that is not the optimal long-term solution for insomnia. If one has long-term sleeping problems and hesitant to try a pharmacological intervention, it is wise to exhaust all cognitive behavioral therapy techniques before other approaches.

The result is an increase in theta brain waves, a greater ability to self-regulate one’s emotions, and markedly reduced rumination. — Nicole S. Urdang, MS, NCC, DHM

Since insomnia is also associated with a good number of physical and mental health illnesses, it is even best to seek professional help when there is another co-morbidity present. There are online counseling communities where you can ask for a counselor or therapist to help you with your sleeping problems.