CBT Works For People Struggling With Sleep Issues
One out of four people report having trouble with sleeping, many pop a sleeping pill to help get some much-needed Z’s. But these drugs can come with side effects and don’t always provide the best quality sleep you need to feel refreshed. New research points to cognitive behavioural therapy as a better solution, with no side effects.
We all have some nights were sleep is a struggle but if this goes on for longer than a month it may be time to address it.
The benefits of good sleep are
Good energy levels
Greater capacity to learn
Improved immune system
Reduced stress levels
The First steps
The first step in addressing a sleep problem is to have any medical conditions ruled out by your general practitioner. A general health check-up by your surgery would also be beneficial.
Consumer Reports recommends working with an accredited Cognitive behavioural therapist for insomnia. Cognitive behavioural therapy has been shown to improve the amount of sleep you get and the actual quality of your sleep. For a fully qualified CBT therapist ensure they are accredited by the BABCP. If you want to find out more about CBT if its right for you and how to find a therapist you can download ‘Getting started in CBT’ information pack here
The first step in CBT is to start a sleep diary, along with rating sleep and how you feel the next day. A therapist then reviews that information and suggests strategies to improve the amount and quality of sleep. An improving sleep pattern programme is then developed and tailored to the individual’s needs and generally, it can take approximately one-two months for an improved sleep pattern to be established.
Key recommendations are
Begin to relax and prepare for bed at least 2 hours before sleep.
Create a good bedtime routine and stick with it even at weekends.
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
Use lavender to relax you at night.
Magnesium is a good aid for sleep.
Have a bath with Epsom salts to relax your physiology.
Don’t spend too long in bed not sleeping, you need to associate bed with sleep.
Ensure your environment is conducive to sleep – warm, comfortable, nice and dark
No alcohol or caffiene
Avoid phones, Ipads and digital engagement in the two hours before bed
Sleep And Your Thoughts
A key maintaining element of sleep problems is often how we think:
The more you force yourself to sleep the less sleep you will have. Accept that you won’t sleep and aim to rest instead. Accepting that you won’t sleep sounds strange and can panic people but it’s often the forcing yourself to sleep and increasing the pressure on your self to sleep, which causes the exhaustion the following day due to adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol being released in your body.
Where to get help with insomnia?
Your GP can organise a referral for CBT on the NHS and give you an overview of treatment options for insomnia.
Naturally, as a cognitive behavioural therapist, with 20 years experience in mental health, I absolutely recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – based entirely on the consistently amazing improvements I witness in clients. Like all therapies, CBT obviously isn’t for everyone though. So, to find out if it could be right for you, a good starting point is my free download: ‘A Guide to starting CBT Therapy’ follow the link below