How Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) May Help Cure Your Chronic Insomnia
Many people worry about getting diagnosed with a sleep disorder because they don’t want to become reliant on medication. While medication is necessary in certain cases, there is a popular, effective alternative for chronic sleep conditions called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
CBT was originally developed to treat depression (coincidentally, one of the most common psychiatric conditions to appear alongside insomnia), but it’s since been co-opted to treat a wide range of mental disorders, from obsessive compulsive disorder to substance abuse. Best of all? It has a successful track record, even in comparison to medication-based treatments.
Here’s how CBT works. Its basic premise is that by identifying harmful behaviours, and then understanding the wider context of behaviour and/or external triggers that produces them, a therapist can work with a patient to eventually eliminate or greatly reduce these behaviours. Diagnosing a patient with a particular disorder is less important for CBT than gaining a holistic understanding of their lifestyle, beliefs, and habits that surround whatever they would like to change.
CBT interventions typically require a person to keep daily diaries of their activities and rate the severity of their symptoms using a numerical scale. Someone suffering from insomnia, for instance, may keep a sleep diary and carefully record what they do around bedtime. Once the therapist establishes a baseline of how much sleep their patient gets, they work on improving it. Interestingly, CBT not only works on tweaking behaviours but on challenging "dysfunctional" beliefs that may themselves play a large role in worsening symptoms. CBT has proven effective for reducing these beliefs, which positively affects insomnia treatment downstream.
If this sounds like a lot of work, make no mistake—while CBT is time-consuming and requires a lot of commitment to work properly, its major benefit is that it’s not a band-aid solution. Slowly, steadily changing your beliefs and lifestyle habits for the better is likely to yield long-lasting results.
If you’ve been suffering from chronic insomnia, please don’t delay in consulting a healthcare professional. Whether it turns out that you would benefit from CBT or a more aggressive medical intervention, the consequences of poor sleep are too severe to take the risk of not addressing it.
As always, if you think your sleep troubles boil down to a lumpy old mattress, pop by your local Regal Sleep Solutions. As the wide network of health professionals that recommend Regal to their patients would attest, a quality mattress it the foundation of healthy sleep.