Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. About 10% of the adult population lives with chronic insomnia, where short-term symptoms of insomnia impact an even higher percentage of the population. Some studies say that insomnia has become an even more prevalent issue during the coronavirus pandemic. Can therapy help if insomnia is impacting your life? Today, we will answer that question and talk about how to find support if you need it.
When you have insomnia, you may experience difficulty falling asleep (sleep-onset insomnia) or have trouble staying asleep (sleep maintenance insomnia). Chronic insomnia occurs and is diagnosed when symptoms persist on a regular basis for three months or more. If you have chronic insomnia, it can impact your life in serious ways. People living with chronic insomnia may experience severe tiredness and other symptoms that impact work, school, interpersonal relationships, and other important areas of life. The effects of insomnia can be devastating to say the least. A lack of sleep puts you at a higher risk of getting into car accidents, and it also increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and more.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Insomnia
Many people are surprised to hear that there actually is a form of therapy designated to help people living with insomnia. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia, often referred to as CBT-I, is a research-backed form of therapy for people living with insomnia. Research indicates that CBT-I can help both people with long-term or chronic insomnia and those with short-term insomnia. When you see a therapist for CBT-I, you will work on cognitive restructuring surrounding thoughts about sleep and implementing practices that will help you mitigate symptoms of insomnia. These may include but aren’t limited to:
- Lifestyle changes such as limiting alcohol and caffeine. Many people underestimate the impact that alcohol can have on sleep, so if you struggle with insomnia, this is something to look into.
- Getting up if you spend more than 10 minutes in bed laying awake. While this may sound counterintuitive, it is beneficial for many people to get up if they do not fall asleep within 10 minutes and lay down again once they are tired and feel like they can fall asleep. This can mitigate frustration surrounding difficulty falling asleep and give you time to wind down naturally.
- Relaxation practices. These may include breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, and more.
- Using the bed for sleep and sex only.
The cognitive restructuring practices used in CBT-I often focus on thoughts of anxiety surrounding the impact of insomnia and other thoughts that impact sleep. When you live with insomnia, you may start to struggle with nervousness surrounding the way that symptoms impact your life during daylight hours, nervousness or dread surrounding bedtime or the process of falling asleep due to the difficulty that you face in falling or staying asleep, and more. CBT-I is typically a short-term form of treatment. In CBT-I, your therapist will allow you to address any unique thoughts or concerns you face. If you live with insomnia, there is hope.
If you struggle with insomnia and are interested in CBT-I, you may consider looking for a therapist who specializes in working with sleep disorders and concerns or someone who provides CBT-I specifically. There are a number of routes you can take to find a therapist. You may ask a general doctor or PCP for a referral after briefly describing your symptoms and reason for seeking therapy, use an online directory, search the web for a provider who is licensed to practice near you, contact your insurance company, or sign up for a reputable online therapy website with licensed providers. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to get the support that you need, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help and start the process today.