Sleep Care

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an approach of psychotherapy that aims to solve problems of dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and thoughts through a process of setting and reaching goals.

CBT has been proven to be an effective treatment for several problems, including mood changes, anxiety, personality disorders, over/under eating, substance abuse, psychotic disorders and sleep disorders.  Treatment is very specific and tailored to the individual and the disorder being treated.  Time limits are placed on therapy sessions, usually 30 sessions lasting 4 -8 minutes, and these sessions can be one-on-one treatment or group therapy.

CBT was developed by merging behavior therapy and cognitive (or thought) therapy.  These two therapies are rooted in different theories but found a common ground with an approach that says, “Here is the issue; tackle it now.”

In regard to sleep disorders, CBT is most commonly used to treat people with insomnia.  CBT helps identify and correct inappropriate thoughts and beliefs that could be the cause of insomnia.  This approach is based on the idea that you think and act based on how you feel.  CBT also provides information about sleep norms, age-related sleep changes, sleep goals as well as the influence of naps and exercise on sleep.  CBT has also been proven to wean insomnia sufferers off of antidepressants.  This approach to treating insomnia works on several levels and contains one or more of the following elements:
Control/Psychotherapy – controlling or eliminating negative thoughts and worries;
Sleep Restriction – matching time spent in bed with sleep requirements and reducing amounts of time in bed without sleeping in order to increase the desire to sleep;
Remaining Awake – also called paradoxical intention. This approach involves avoiding any effort to fall asleep while eliminating anxiety felt about falling asleep easily;
Stimulus Control – disassociates negative cues attached to the sleeping environment and enforces a positive response when entering that environment;
Sleep Hygiene – this method corrects lifestyle habits that influence sleeping.
Relaxation Training – aids in producing relaxation and reducing or eliminating factors that disturb sleep. This may include meditation, hypnosis and muscle relaxation.
Biofeedback – measures how your body is responding to conditions through muscle tension or brain-wave frequency, with the intention of helping control them;

The most effective CBT treatments involve a number of these methods.  Unlike sleep medications, CBT requires practice and patience.  Some of these methods may not get you immediate results, but sticking with the program will.

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