If you have difficulty sleeping, you are not alone. Over 50% of adults now complain of difficulty sleeping, and half of these are chronic cases.
Causes range from depression, anxiety, hormonal changes, sleep apnea and excessive alcohol use.
To get a good night sleep, many people turn to medication. However, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) offers a potential pill-free alternative that is safe, sustainable and effective.
Why sleep medication is not a cure for insomnia
Getting a decent night of sleep with the aid of sleep medication is tempting. However, like most quick fixes, it does not come without its consequences. There are short, medium and long-acting drugs.
Depending on how long they last in your body, side effects of these medications can include impaired driving the following day and amnesic effects on the brain. Studies show that sleep meds do not provide us with the highest quality zz’s.
Most sleep medications approved only for short-term use, as clinical trials have only examined safety for a period of several weeks. Despite all of this, because we are desperate for sleep, many take these insomnia-helping prescription drugs for years.
Dependence on sleep medication is widespread. It is important to note the difference between dependence and addiction, which is characterized by compulsive use of a substance that interferes with quality of life.
If you are thinking about weaning yourself off of sleeping pills, it is recommended that you first consult with your prescribing physician, who can help you with a gradual, progressive reduction in dosage.
How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) can help you
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, or CBT-I, can help reduce the feelings of anxiety that often accompany this change in conditioning.
And that is what sleep is – conditioning. We are creatures of habit. Just as San Francisco was not built overnight, it can take time to unlearn or deconstruct our beliefs about sleep and develop new habits.
A course of treatment in CBT-I can help you identify self-defeating sleep thoughts and replace them with more effective alternatives, to get you back on track with the sound sleep your body needs for optimal functioning.
Techniques taught in CBT include:
- Changing sleep thoughts and behaviors
- Relaxation techniques
- Lifestyle habits that improve sleep
Worrying about not sleeping is one of the most common causes of insomnia. A psychotherapist trained in CBT-I can guide you in navigating your way out from under negative thought patterns.
Research by Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist Gregg D. Jacobs, shows that 75% of insomnia patients experience significantly improved sleep following CBT-I treatment, with the majority becoming normal sleepers.
85-90% of people are able to reduce or eliminate use of sleeping pills. CBT-I has been shown to be more effective than sleeping pills. Suffering is optional.
CBT-I can help restore your natural sleep pattern and allow you to be more productive, less anxious, and enjoy the life you are living.
About the Author
Ali Psiuk is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) at Well Clinic who uses CBT-I to help insomnia sufferers identify negative thoughts patterns around sleep.