What Does Sleep Therapy Do? An Expert's Guide

Sleep therapy is a form of therapy designed to improve the quality of sleep and help with sleep disorders, such as insomnia. It is a specialized therapy that is conducted by highly trained mental health professionals, such as sleep psychologists. They seek to understand the root of what may be causing the sleep disorder in order to treat it. During the initial consultation, the sleep specialist will review your medical history, perform a physical exam, and ask you questions about sleep.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBTi) helps you change actions or thoughts that are affecting your ability to sleep well. Insomnia is a disorder characterized by persistent difficulty. Trusted source: The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) sets standards and promotes excellence in sleep medicine, healthcare, education, and research. Sleep specialists are usually neurologists, pulmonologists, or psychiatrists who have completed additional training in sleep medicine.

Going to a sleep specialist to learn how sleep affects you and what your options are could change your life. Therefore, you should see a sleep specialist when sleep problems persist for more than about three months and are affecting your daily life. Your therapist may recommend modifying some aspects of your sleep environment to make it comfortable and conducive to uninterrupted sleep. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be a good treatment option if you have long-term sleep problems or are concerned about the possibility of relying on sleeping pills.

To learn how best to treat insomnia, your sleep specialist may ask you to keep a detailed sleep diary for 1 to 2 weeks. Documenting your nighttime sleep patterns, waking episodes, and alcohol and caffeine consumption in a sleep diary for a week or two before your appointment can help your doctor make the diagnosis. Check how your sleep habits and environment are up to par and evaluate how adjusting behavior can improve sleep quality. You can locate CBT-i providers and verify their credentials through certain professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, the American Board of Sleep Medicine, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and the Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicine.