What are the different types of CBT methods involved in insomnia training?

In this blog, we will learn about the treatment method for insomnia and also the ways to prevent it. 

The various type of techniques used in CBT for insomnia training are as follows

Stimulus Control Therapy

  • Sleep Restriction and Compression
  • Relaxation technique
  • Sleep environment improvement
  • Sleep hygiene
  • Sleep schedule etc

CBT For Insomnia

The cognitive aspect of CBT teaches you to identify and change beliefs that are hampering your sleep. The goal of this therapy treatment is to eradicate thoughts that evoke negative worries and anxiety within you which ultimately affect your sleep pattern. 

On the other hand, the behavioral aspect of CBT makes you incorporate good sleep habits in your life and teaches you to overcome behaviors that hinder your sleep. 

Depending on the severity of your insomnia the treatment can vary.  Following are some techniques employed in CBT to treat insomnia. 

Stimulus control therapy. 

This technique eliminates the causes or elements that prevent your mind from sleeping. For this, a sleeping schedule could be set wherein you are conditioned to follow a regular and consistent bedtime and wake time. You might be instructed to avoid taking naps during the day and utilizing the bed only for sleeping and engaging in sexual activities( i.e. avoiding using the bed to eat or work). Furthermore, if you fall asleep then you should stay away from your bed, take a walk and come back only when you are drowsy. In this way, you get conditioned to associate your bed with only sleep or sleep-related activities. Naturally, whenever you come in contact with your bed in the future you feel drowsy just by association. 

Sleep restriction and Compression. 

Just lazing around in bed when you are awake or not sleepy can lead to poor sleeping habits. In this treatment, such habits are eradicated to ensure a healthy sleep cycle by cutting down the amount of time spent in bed. This technique utilizes lack of sleep and the fatigue caused by it as a way to combat insomnia. Once the client feels the effect of less sleep they become very tired the next day and are more likely to fall asleep.  The time spent in bed is gradually increased as the sleep improves. 

Sleep hygiene. 

It is necessary to pay attention to our habits and lifestyle that might negatively influence our sleep. Smoking, consumption of alcohol and caffeine, lack of exercise, stress etc can cause insomnia or disturb our sleep cycle. In this technique, such harmful habits are resolved to help a person get better sleep. Also, the client is encouraged to engage in healthy habits and provided with tips to achieve this goal. For eg. Cutting down on screen time before bed, eating healthy food, etc. 

Sleep environment improvement. 

One needs to keep in mind the environment they are surrounded by propr to sleeping. Often we are surrounded by a disruptive environment such that is not conducive to good sleep. For eg., overly bright bedrooms, loud noises, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, etc., By modifying such unhelpful environments into conducive environments we can hope to achieve better sleep.

Relaxation training. 

Relaxation techniques are a great way to bring down anxiety and stress levels that often act as deterrents to sleep. In this technique, mental imagery, breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, meditation, and many more effective methods are employed to achieve a peaceful and relaxed sleep. 

Remaining passively awake. 

In this technique that is also called paradoxical intention, the client is actually encouraged to avoid falling asleep. By constantly fretting over not being able to sleep can actually work against your favor and make it even more difficult to sleep. But once you let go of that worry you can relax and actually make it easier for your mind to fall asleep. This technique is paradoxical in nature yet it has been proven effective in helping with insomnia.

Biofeedback.

In this method, the biological reactions and signs such as heart rate, muscle tension, blood pressure, etc., are recorded and observed to identify sleep patterns and what are the factors that affect them. Once the factors are identified it becomes easier to adjust or modify the biological reactions to suit the ideal sleeping patterns.

Medications

Medications are very commonly prescribed for sleep-related problems. But they are short-term treatment options and prolonged use of such treatment can even be fatal for the client. Though there are some benefits to using drugs as they provide immediate relief and ease the client’s anxiety and problems originating from sleep-related issues. But it is always better to combine medications with therapy to obtain optimum results. CBT is one of the most effective therapy options for insomnia and it can be a better treatment method than drugs which even lead to addiction and have side effects. Pills just treat the symptoms but CBT helps with the factors and causes affecting a person’s sleep cycle and leading to insomnia.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Common Causes of Insomnia

 

Insomnia is classified as a disorder and there are various factors that lead to it. Sometimes insomnia can also be a symptom of other mental health disorders. 

  • Stress.

Stress is one of the major contributors to developing insomnia 

  • Travel or work schedule. 

Hectic travel and work schedule can mess up the sleep rhythm of the body and lead to the development of insomnia

  • Poor sleep habits.

Poor sleeping habits like watching videos before sleeping or not exercising regularly can have detrimental effects on the body

  • Eating just before going to bed in the evening

By consuming food just before going to bed we make it difficult for our body to fall asleep as the food is yet to be digested

  • Mental health disorders. 

Certain mental health disorders like bipolar disorder or depression can cause insomnia

  • Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions that cause pain or make the person suffer can also lead to poor sleeping habits

  • Consumption of Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. 

High consumption of nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol adversely affects the sleep cycle of our body and can even cause serious damage to our bodies.

Misconceptions about healthy sleep patterns

We need to have eight hours of sleep every day to function properly

Every person is built differently and has different kinds of needs. Some require the eight-hours of sleep but others might require more or even less. It is completely dependent on the sleep rhythm and requirements of the person.

  • If we can’t fall asleep we should try harder

This is paradoxical. The harder we try to fall asleep the more difficult it becomes to do so. It is detrimental and can further worsen the situation.

  • Alcohol can help with insomnia

Alcohol is very bad for a good quality of sleep. Alcohol may make a person fall asleep due to intoxication but such kind of sleep is not healthy and can prove to be hazardous for the person’s health in the future. 

  • To make up for the lack of sleep obtained at night you should nap during the day

Napping is not at all helpful for insomnia. It makes falling asleep at night naturally even harder as it interferes with the sleeping pattern of the body. 

4 Amazing Tips to deal with Insomnia

Learning and incorporating positive sleep habits helps in paving a good foundation for our sleep cycle and is also an integral part of the CBT treatment for insomnia. Following are some tips and guidelines to help people achieve better sleep and overcome insomnia. 

  • Sleep schedule:

By maintaining a regular, healthy, and particular sleep schedule can help your mind and body settle into the sleep rhythm. It is essential to maintain this rhythm as it controls and directs our sleep cycle and patterns and a normal rhythm equates to good sleep. The sleep routine or schedule should be followed on all days of the week- even on weekends- as even a slight deviation from the routine can cause the sleep patterns to be disturbed. 

  • Don’t be in bed unless sleepy:

It is detrimental to your sleep if you lay in the bed even when you aren’t sleepy as it can send a wrong message to your body. Therefore if you aren’t sleepy and need a little while to fall back asleep you can get out of bed and do some other things until you feel you are ready to fall asleep.

  • Follow a nightly routine: 

By following a nightly routine you can condition your body into falling asleep by the end of that routine. If every day you do a set of things before going to bed the body will gradually learn to detect those as signs to fall asleep soon and thus you will end up feeling tired towards the end of that nightly routine.

  • Daytime activities:

Even the activities you engage in during the day can negatively impact your sleep schedule or pattern. Therefore you must pay attention to such activities and behaviors. Avoiding alcohol and excessive caffeine can help attain a good night of sleep at the end of the day. Exercise can not just help you maintain a healthy body but make you tired thereby helping you fall asleep sooner.

Conclusion

We understood the ways to deal with insomnia as well as the misconceptions associated with it.  We also reviewed the treatment plan in CBT for insomnia. 

What we recommend for Counselling

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression or any other mental disorders then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

How do I become a certified CBT therapist?

To become a certified Cognitive-behavioral therapist you need a Master’s or doctoral degree in either Psychology, Counseling, Social work, Psychiatry, Occupational therapy, or any other related field from an accredited university. Furthermore, you need experience in administering Cognitive behavioral therapy and therefore need to work under, qualified therapists to gain experience and skills

What are the 4 behavioral tips to improve sleep for insomniacs?

Some behavioral techniques that can help with insomnia are as follows:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Meditation
  • breathing exercises, 
  • progressive muscle relaxation (PMR)
  • Biofeedback etc.

How long does it take for CBT for insomnia to work?

It generally takes about eight weeks of session to cure insomnia with the help of CBT, Though it should be noted that the duration could vary according to the severity of the disorder and also the client.

Is CBT effective for insomnia?

CBT has been proven to be effective in improving sleep time, duration, and also quality. Almost fifty to seventy-five percent of people who were treated with CBT have shown clear improvements in their sleep patterns. 

Is insomnia a mental illness?

Insomnia is rarely an isolated medical or mental illness but rather a symptom of another illness to be investigated by a person and their medical doctors. In other people, insomnia can be a result of a person’s lifestyle or work schedule.

References

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). Sleep Foundation. (2020, October 22). Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/treatment/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-insomnia.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI). (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://aims.uw.edu/nyscc/training/sites/default/files/CBTi%20Manual.pdf.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2016, September 28). Insomnia treatment: Cognitive behavioral therapy instead of Sleeping Pills. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/in-depth/insomnia-treatment/art-20046677

.The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. (2021, April 14). 7 common myths about insomnia: The recovery village. The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehab. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/insomnia/insomnia-myths/.