Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Why it helps with insomnia
Today's topic is cognitive behavioral therapy: Why it helps with insomnia.
The sleep problem that just got worse
Some of you have had sleep problems for years, and you don’t really know what caused it in the first place, only that it's been getting worse and worse. But for many of you, the sleep problems started because you had too much stress in your life, or because you were going through some kind of trauma.
Even if you managed to heal your wounds or manage your stress and move on with your life, very often the sleep problems remain. It has become a bad habit/ bad pattern, and you just don’t know your way out of it. If you see a doctor all you get is sleeping pills or some sleep hygiene advice.
The problem is that sleeping pills lose their effect over time, you get addicted, and you need more. It doesn’t really help you in the long run. If you turned into a chronic insomniac, then sleep hygiene is really not enough to cure the problem.
Lost control over sleep
There can be so many reasons why people have sleep problems. However, when people become insomniacs over time, they start behaving remarkably similar. Many of my clients reach out for help because they feel that they have lost control over their sleep. To compensate for their sleep, most of them spend up to 10 hours or more in bed every night, but they don't sleep more than 5 hours.
Sometimes being tired is not the same as being sleepy! Most insomniacs go to bed before they should because they think that they are so exhausted and tired. The truth though is:
- They are not sleepy enough
- They have not built up the sleep pressure to get a good quality sleep
You need to challenge your own thoughts and beliefs regarding your sleep.
Does it really help to spend all this time in bed? Tossing and turning? With racing thoughts? And sometimes even feeling panic and anxiety?
Instead of thinking that bad sleep has control over you, it's your turn to be in control over your sleep.
In cognitive-behavioral therapy, we work with changing and removing all your bad habits regarding your sleep. It is all about learning to sleep again and removing all the bad habits related to your sleep.
We need to change factors that maintain your sleep problems and overcome the underlying causes of it. We focus on changing your thoughts and behavior regarding your sleep. Sleep problems are really a wrong learning, where the bed is associated with wakefulness instead of sleep. Everything is a combination of thoughts, feelings, your behavior, and your reaction to this. So, we need to go in-depth of it to change what is happening.
Remember: Often, when you go to bed and try to sleep, whatever you have not dealt with during the day, will come to the surface.
You can't escape from your feelings, but you can change your thoughts that create your feelings. Feelings that come from your body are different from head-created feelings. We need to work together on different levels, and also focus on calming down your nervous system so that your natural state of sleep will happen at night.
The goal of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Our main goal with cognitive-behavioral therapy is for you to achieve good quality sleep without spending too much time trying to fall asleep and to avoid long night awakenings or waking up too early. What determines whether you have had good quality sleep is how you feel when you wake up the next morning and during the daytime. The quality of your sleep is very important, but not necessarily the length. Everybody has different sleep needs.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia is recommended as the first-line treatment for people with insomnia, as it is far more effective than sleep medications. Remember sleep is a natural state. We need to remove whatever is hindering you from being in this natural state and make you fall asleep naturally and stay asleep all night.
If you would like to find out more about cognitive-behavioral therapy and are ready to take control over your sleep again and get healthy sleep habits, please contact Eva Nyhagen on our team site.
This blog post was created by our sleep coach Eva Nyhagen.