Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is considered the most effective treatment for people who continually struggle to fall or stay asleep.
If you cannot find a provider, C.B.T.-I. instruction is easy to access online. Yet it is rarely the first thing people try, said Aric Prather, a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who treats patients with insomnia.
C.B.T.-I. does use a series of treatments to target behaviors that are inhibiting sleep, like daytime naps or using digital devices before bed, and replaces them with more effective ones, like sticking to a consistent wake time. But it also aims to address anxieties and negative beliefs about sleep.
Much of the time, insomnia can lead to the feeling that sleep has become “unpredictable and broken,” Dr. Prather said. “Every day people with chronic insomnia are thinking about ‘How am I going to sleep tonight?’”
C.B.T.-I. teaches people different ways to relax, like deep breathing and mindfulness meditation, and helps patients develop realistic expectations about their sleep habits.
It is especially important that people with insomnia learn to view their bed as a place for restful sleep rather than associating it with tossing and turning. Patients undergoing C.B.T.-I. are asked to get out of bed if they are not asleep after around 20 or 30 minutes and do a quiet activity in dim lighting that doesn’t involve electronics. In addition, they are told to stay in bed only while drowsy or sleeping.
“C.B.T.-I. leads to more consolidated sleep and shorter time to fall asleep which is a major gain for many,” Dr. Harris said.
If you’re having problems sleeping, first visit your health care provider to rule out any physical problems (like a thyroid imbalance, chronic pain or sleep apnea) or a psychological issue such as depression that might require separate treatment, the experts said.
And for those who prefer to avoid technology entirely, more than one expert recommended the workbook “Quiet Your Mind and Get to Sleep” by Colleen E. Carney and Rachel Manber.
Source: NYTimes Science