CBT for Insomnia (CBT-I)
It’s the middle of the night and you’re wide awake.
You can’t seem to fall asleep no matter how hard you try. So, you lie awake with your mind racing. You wish you could finally turn your brain off so you could rest. You know you need to sleep so you won’t feel groggy and tired tomorrow. As you’re lying in bed, you start to do the math: if I fall asleep in the next 5 minutes I’ll get this much sleep. But five, ten, thirty, and even sixty minutes come and go and you’re still wide awake.
The Cycle of Insomnia
Worst of all, you’re anxious about how exhausted you’ll feel in the morning and how that will impact your day. Then, the next morning comes and as predicted, you’re tired. It’s hard to get out of bed and get going in the morning. Then throughout the day, you feel sluggish. This may lead you to drink lots of coffee, tea, or soda throughout the day because you need the caffeine to stay awake. But, then nighttime comes and you’re wired, so you’re right back where you started the night before.
This cycle continues night after night until you realize, you have insomnia. You may try and accept it, or you’ve tried to correct it with prescribed or over-the-counter sleep aids. But, it is still not working. You need help.
If this sounds familiar, you would benefit from Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I is a short-term psychological intervention created to resolve insomnia in effective ways.
Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia
Here are some common signs and symptoms of insomnia that CBT-I can treat:
Trouble falling asleep at night
Feeling like you can’t turn your brain off at night
Waking up a lot at night
Feeling groggy and exhausted in the morning
Excessive consumption of caffeine or stimulants
Trouble paying attention
Frequent errors or accidents
Anxiety about not being able to sleep
Understanding the Link Between Poor Sleep, Anxiety and Insomnia
But, the good news is insomnia is very treatable with CBT-I. In fact, research shows 70-80% of patients who have gone through CBTI saw major sleep improvements. They no longer have to rely on sleep medications that have powerful side effects. In some cases, these side effects can actually make your sleep issues worse in the long run.
What is CBTI?
In a word, CBTI is a safe, short-term, effective, non-drug treatment for insomnia.
In 6-8 sessions this structured program helps you address and replace the negative thoughts and behaviors causing sleep disturbances. By doing so, you’re actually addressing the reasons why you can’t sleep. This differs from taking medications that only resolve your sleep issues for a time.
CBTI focuses on three key components: psychoeducation, behavioral interventions, and cognitive interventions. When combined, this provides a comprehensive approach to treating sleep issues.
One of the most important parts of CBT-I is psychoeducation. This means we will dive in and learn how sleep impacts your brain and your body. We will also learn how various factors impact the quality and duration of the sleep you’re getting.
During CBT-I, a CBT-I therapist will work to challenge your negative beliefs surrounding sleep. For example, you may have thought “If I don’t sleep, I will be worthless.” But, that’s not actually true. Occasional sleeplessness won’t hurt you and it’s actually super normal. The goal of challenging your negative beliefs is to reduce insomnia-related anxiety. This will allow you to relax when you do go to bed at night.
Your behavioral choices impact the way you sleep. So, we will talk about your sleep hygiene and how it’s contributing to your insomnia.
For example, I will ask you if you:
- Drink lots of caffeine
- Sleep in a dark room
- Watch TV or scroll on your phone in bed
- Work in bed
- Allow pets or children in your bed, etc.
If the answer is yes, then we will discuss how these choices are keeping you from proper sleep. The truth is, your bed should be for sleeping and intimate activities only. This sends the message to your brain that your bed is for sleep only.
We will also talk about your sleep routines, when you go to bed and when you wake up. We want you to be tired when you go to bed. This way, you associate your bed with sleep and not activities that need to happen when you’re awake. Furthermore, we may discuss sleep reduction and moving your bedtime. By doing so, you can be extra tired when you get in bed at night.
Last, we will work on learning relaxation techniques. These will help you calm your mind and body when you’re worried about not being able to sleep.
After working with a CBT-I therapist you will find that you have the skills you need to overcome periods of insomnia should they crop up again. Research shows that 5 years later CBTI is still effective because they have the skills to prevent insomnia from disrupting their life again.
Begin CBT-I in the United Kingdom and the United States
Meet with a caring therapist
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Other Services Offered at ChangeWorks
CBT-I isn’t the only service offered at ChangeWorks. I also provide both individual and group therapy services. I offer CBT, online anxiety therapy, and online therapy for expats. In addition, I also offer life transition therapy, mindfulness-based therapy, therapy for college students and therapy for women’s issues. Feel free to learn more about online therapy in the UK, or visit my FAQ for more helpful info!