Using CBT to Cure Insomnia Problems

CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is  essentially a psycho-therapeutic method for dealing with some insomnia problems. It's an approach which aims specifically at cognitive, emotional, and behaviors considered dysfunctional or problematic and in turn, lead to sleeplessness. There is enough empirical evidence to suggest that CBT can be useful and effective as one of many insomnia cures and treatments. There's even a great deal of testimonial evidence that suggests CBT is most beneficial when used to augment other insomnia treatments, such as meditation, white noise, and audio therapy.

CBT uses 4 basic components to try and combat people afflicted with sleeplessness. 
  1. Stimulus control
  2. Sleep scheduling
  3. Sleep restriction
  4. Sleep hygiene education
When deciding whether or not to go the route of CBT, it's critically important that you first rule out other possible culprits for your insomnia. This is a good general rule for any sleep disorder. In order to be sure your issue actually requires one or more insomnia cures, the following must be eliminated, or upon discovery, properly addressed:
  • Other psychological issues, such as mood disorders, depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, e.t.c...
  • Unknown physical illness or disease that remains undiscovered. Insomnia can manifest as the body's immune system reacts to a new problem, sending alarm signals to the brain that can cause insomnia.
  • Known medical conditions, such as chronic pain, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, menopause, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, e.t.c...
  • Medication side effects, whether being used as a prescribed treatment or a simple over the counter self medication. It's always important to note the side effects, and to watch out for those drugs that contain large amounts of caffeine. (a substantial amount of over the counter pain medication has caffeine included)

For all these reasons it is important to be assessed by a medical professional first and foremost, and properly tested for any possible ailments and conditions that could either be the cause, or a significant contributing factor to your insomnia. Otherwise you may end up finding insomnia cures that you don't even need.

The second step in CBT for dealing with sleeplessness is to have you author a sleep journal. Some therapists require 1 week of notes, others like to have 2 weeks or more data on your sleep habits before suggesting further treatments. When writing this journal, the patient is asked to note the following:
  • alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine use, (and when) 
  • the timing of meals, 
  • how many naps are taken (and when). 
  • when you go to bed, 
  • how long before you turn out the lights, 
  • what time you fall asleep, 
  • when and how many nighttime interruptions or awakenings occur, 
  • when you wake up, and 
  • how long after waking before you rouse from the bed.  
Diagnostically, properly noting these things is critical to finding an appropriate treatment within the main components of CBT. Some therapists have journal templates for use, which can make jotting these things down easier. That said, there are other important reasons to journal your process for sleeping. 

You should be as candid as possible inside the journal, elaborating on your thoughts regarding slumber. These thoughts can be noted at any time you have them. For example, when you have negative thoughts about sleep at night causing you to fear that slumber won't come, it will keep you awake. Often called somniphobia, this problem is actually known as "excessive nocturnal mentation". Noting thoughts like this for a qualified CBT therapist is extremely helpful in correcting your problem.

Also important is your sleep hygiene, which is another area CBT can be beneficial to you. As an example, if you are doing your daily work out at 9pm and need to sleep by 11 pm, your sleep hygiene is, for lack of a better term, crap. If you're eating heavy meals or egregious amounts of snacks late at night or close to bedtime, a) you won't sleep well, and b) insomnia will eventually be the least of your health problems. If you are required to be awake at 6am, and you put on your favorite video game at 12 am for a quick run through, well, you have issues with sleep hygiene without a doubt. CBT can advise you how to correct these lifestyle faux pas. 

Finally, CBT is effective for dealing with stress, which can be the worst culprit for sending you in search of insomnia cures. Qualified therapists can teach you ways of better managing stress - which in turn can allow you the respite you need from the chaos of the day.

Get some rest!