Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)

When you examine the research on treating insomnia, two approaches have the most research to demonstrate their effectiveness: medications and CBT-I. Research that compares these two methods show they can be equally effective over time. Medications can be helpful, especially when the insomnia is short-term and was triggered by a stressful event that is continuing. CBT-I can be a good option when insomnia first starts or when it has become more chronic, and while it does involve an initial investment of time, the results are generally long-lasting. Many individuals prefer not to take a medication for their sleep, and the behavioral treatment helps them learn life-long methods to cultivate good sleep.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a program that systematically addresses your insomnia. You may first complete a sleep log to pinpoint problems to address. You learn about the behavioral factors that fuel your insomnia. You also learn about the physiological mechanisms that generate sleep in your body, and how to strengthen them. You will use your sleep log to develop a temporary schedule to help you sleep better, and you will learn what to do if you are not sleeping.

Some people can have difficulty “turning off” their mind at night, and others become anxious or frustrated if they can’t sleep. This can keep the insomnia going. CBT-I has ways to address this by changing both habits and attitudes that are related to sleep. Relaxation and meditation can also be included. CBT-I does involve a number of sessions, similar to physical therapy used to heal a broken bone.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia is a hidden gem. It is a first-line insomnia treatment that is recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Despite its effectiveness, it is not always easy to find because there is currently a shortage of trained providers. Dr. Loomis is one of two providers in the state to be certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine, and her practice is exclusively devoted to sleep disorders. Please feel free to call Dr. Loomis if you would like to ask a question or set an appointment. If you would like to learn more about CBT-I, please look under the Resources section of this website.