Sleep Therapy: Techniques to Improve Your Sleep

Sleep is essential for our physical and mental health, yet many of us struggle to get the restful sleep we need. Fortunately, there are a variety of techniques that can help improve your sleep. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used therapy for sleep disorders, and it can be done individually, in a group setting, or even online. CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) is a specific type of therapy designed for people who can't sleep the number of hours they need to wake up feeling rested and refreshed.

In addition to CBT, there are other techniques that can help you get a better night's sleep. Improving your sleep hygiene involves developing healthy sleep-related habits and routines. This may include modifying some aspects of your sleep environment to make it comfortable and conducive to uninterrupted sleep. Cognitive restructuring begins to break the cycle of insomnia by identifying, challenging, and altering the thoughts and beliefs that contribute to it.

Common thoughts and beliefs that may be addressed during treatment include anxiety about past experiences of insomnia, unrealistic expectations about the time and quality of sleep, and concern about daytime fatigue or other consequences of lack of sleep. Techniques that calm the mind and relax the body can also help you let go and fall asleep. Slow, deep breathing and progressive relaxation help to calm the nervous system and create conditions conducive to sleep. Mindfulness practices, such as mindfulness meditation, help patients learn to observe their thoughts dispassionately.

This ability is extremely useful for quieting the mind, calming emotional reactivity, and setting the stage for sleep. Sleep restriction is another technique used in sleep therapy. This method limits time spent in bed to increase the desire to sleep and temporarily increase daytime fatigue. You can also support your therapy by making positive lifestyle choices that benefit your ability to sleep.

Cognitive therapy teaches you to recognize and change negative beliefs and thoughts (cognitions) that contribute to your sleep problems. In people with insomnia, inaccurate or dysfunctional thoughts about sleep can lead to behaviors that make it difficult to sleep, which then reinforces dysfunctional thoughts. The five key components of CBT-I are sleep consolidation, stimulus control, cognitive restructuring, sleep hygiene and relaxation techniques. Working with an online therapist can help you avoid the expense and hassle of having to meet in person, and for many people with sleep problems, it can be as effective as in-person therapy. Professionals with experience in CBT-I can be found through professional organizations such as the Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicine and the American Board of Sleep Medicine. CBT-I produces results equivalent to those of sleeping pills, with no side effects, fewer episodes of relapses and a tendency for sleep to continue to improve long after the end of treatment. If you're struggling with insomnia or other sleep disorders, there are a variety of techniques available that can help you get a better night's rest.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used therapy for sleep disorders, but there are also other techniques such as improving your sleep hygiene, cognitive restructuring, mindfulness practices, relaxation techniques, and sleep restriction that can help you get a better night's rest.