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What exactly is CBT for Insomnia?

Most people know what insomnia is. About 30 percent of people will struggle with insomnia at some point in their lives. If you're not familiar with insomnia, count yourself lucky. Unfortunately your quality of sleep tends to worsen with age. Well, insomnia is simply difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. To make it more specific, most insomniacs or people who struggle with sleep problems, lay awake for more than 30 minutes per night before they're able to drift off to sleep. Some lay awake for as long as 1 to 2 hours each night. Others are able to fall asleep just fine, but for some reason, they wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to drift back to sleep within 30 minutes. So typically, 30 minutes is the benchmark we use. If you find yourself laying awake for more than 30 minutes multiple nights a week, for a month or more, then you most likely have chronic insomnia.

Many insomnia sufferers typically go to their physician for help, and they are prescribed either a sleep medication or a benzodiazepine. It all depends on whatever your doctor deems necessary. However, some people do not want to take medications, or they find the side effects of these sleeping pills to be too uncomfortable, so they opt for another type of treatment. Enter Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia or CBT for Insomnia. It's also known as CBT-I.

It's a 6 to 8 week treatment that targets your sleep thoughts, your sleep environment, your sleep habits and you learn relaxation techniques to help you sleep better. It also helps you taper down any sleep medications you might be on (with the approval of your physician of course). The premise of CBT for insomnia is that the thoughts that roam around your head when you're trying to fall asleep affect your feelings about sleep, and ultimately your behaviors concerning sleep. Here's a quick breakdown of what the treatment looks like.

Session 1- Learning about sleep and changing your sleep thoughts

When you have insomnia, you typically live with the anxiety that arises every evening. When the rest of your loved ones are winding down, your mind begins to race as you wonder how frustrating your night is about to get. During the first session, we work on how to fight those negative sleep thoughts and transform them into more positive sleep thoughts. You'll also learn more about sleep patterns so you know what's normal and what's not.

Session 2- Sleep medications and scheduling your sleep

In session 2, we'll talk more about the medications you're taking and your plan to taper them down, if that's what you choose. We'll also set a simple sleep schedule for you to follow each day of the week.

Session 3- Stimulus Control

In session 3 we'll introduce you to relaxation exercises, we'll continue to track and adjust your sleep schedule, and we'll dig deeper into your thought process. We also focus on your bedroom environment- what to avoid, and what to embrace. We discuss what exactly to do when you're having a hard time falling asleep.

Session 4- Relaxation

We practice different relaxation exercises to help you create a calm environment and get your mind prepared to shut down at night time. We also continually review the progress you've made thus far.

Session 5- Sleep hygiene 

Sleep hygiene is a funny phrase that simply means dos and don'ts of sleep. We focus on ways to cultivate good sleep habits during the day, as well as behaviors to avoid so that your insomnia doesn't worsen. By this session, you should see a definite improvement in your sleep.

Booster sessions

Some clients need more than 5 sessions, while others are completely satisfied with their progress after 5 sessions. Sometimes clients come back after a few weeks to ensure that they are on the right track. This is totally normal.

If you want to learn the benefits of CBT for insomnia, click here to read more.

So, if you're ready to kick insomnia out of your life for good, and finally know what it feels like to sleep soundly night after night, click here to schedule a free 15 minute consultation call to see if CBT for insomnia is right for you. You can also call me at 951-905-3181 to find out how CBT for insomnia can help you sleep again in as little as 5 sessions. If you do not live in the Temecula/Murrieta area and you’d like to sleep better, I also provide online treatments for insomnia within California.