"Honey, I can't sleep again and I have a meeting tomorrow!"

A common complaint! In fact, insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. About 50% of adults complain of difficulty sleeping, and 10% suffer the misery of chronic insomnia.

Is this chronic insomnia?

Probably yes, if:

  • you have 1) daytime stress or 2) you just can't focus daytimes, due to your problems at night with falling asleep, staying asleep, or popping awake too early, and
  • these problems happen more than twice a week for at least a month.

Yes, insomnia usually begins due to a specific stress, like an illness or divorce or even something more minor, but what we do then is what LOCKS IN THE PATTERN OF INSOMNIA. We often learn how to sleep POORLY by what we do to deal with that first night or couple nights of trouble sleeping and by how we deal with the tiredness we feel during the day. Over time, we start to do things like:

  • spend a lot of time worrying that we won't sleep (not very relaxing way to fall asleep!), and
  • change behavior in an effort to get more rest instead of sleep.

Unfortunately, worrying and behavior changes probably make our sleep worse and worse.

What's the best treatment! I hate sleeping pills!

So do the sleep experts. The New England Journal of Medicine, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institutes of Health recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective and preferred treatment for chronic insomnia. CBT beats medications, CBT doesn't lead to dependence or lose effect over time like medications do and CBT doesn't give you medicine side effects or the problems with thinking or driving like sleeping pills do.

Would CBT do anything useful for me?

CBT changes the thoughts and behaviors that cause insomnia. By changing these patterns, you sleep more easily and deeply again. That simple, but it works.

Sure, but does it actually work?

Yes it does. CBT helps if you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking too early, and if you want to get off of taking sleeping pills.

75% of people with insomnia get better sleep with CBT, and most people then become normal sleepers again. CBT is safer and more effective than sleeping pills. In fact, most people are able to eliminate sleeping pills altogether.

OK, what do I have to do to see if this works for me?

You play a very active role in the treatment. You:

  • learn the facts about sleep,
  • keep records of your sleep patterns, stresses that affect sleep, and physical symptoms of insomnia, and
  • change the thoughts and behaviors that interfere with your sleep.

Most people who do CBT consistently fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep more easily, and sleep more deeply. They just do.

Does this take years, months, weeks, days?

This is a very fast program. You complete a sleep log to see how bad the problem is and what your sleep pattern looks like right now. You and I do a "clinical assessment" of your current sleep patterns. We make a treatment plan that fits your needs. Then we do CBT: we change the thoughts and behaviors that are interfering with your sleep.

Treatment is quick. Usually it takes just 5 to 8 sessions to get good sleep and to start developing new, better patterns for healthy sleep. We keep an eye on your sleep and watch for signs of insomnia to insure that your sleep gets better and stays better once we are done.

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