Everyone has a bad night’s sleep now and then. A difficult day at work can make you toss and turn. Sleep apnea or a terrible cold can also affect the quality of your slumber. But if you have acute or chronic sleep issues that persist for at least a month and render you fatigued, sluggish, and unfocused, you may be one of the six percent of the population who suffer from “true” insomnia.
Before reaching for medication, consider cognitive behavioral therapy.
Health, Head, Heart
Before diving into any extended therapy, it’s important to check if there’s a health source for insomnia that can be quickly fixed. Many medications and physical conditions can be the cause of frequent waking, difficulty in falling asleep, and general restlessness at night.
Some of the physical and medical causes of insomnia may include:
- Sleep Apnea
- Chronic Pain
- Caffeine, Alcohol, Nicotine
- Frequent Urination
Some of the medications that can interfere with sleep patterns include:
- Some medications for ADHD
- Some medications for depression or anxiety
- Some medications for hypothyroidism
- Some medications for high blood pressure
- Some corticosteroids
If you suspect any of these issues may be contributing to your sleep difficulties, contact your health care provider.
Retrain Your Brain
Cognitive behavior therapy is a talk therapy that promotes an increased awareness of your thinking and behavioral patterns. Through sessions with a mental health professional, you’ll learn how to recognize these patterns and be offered strategies and techniques that allow you to better respond to and modify them. CBT is one of the approved methods of therapy for insomnia as well as many other conditions.
When you start CBT, you’ll be asked to keep a sleep diary to monitor your sleep habits for a couple of weeks. The therapist will then recommend changes in diet, environment, and routines that may be inhibiting your ability to fall asleep or stay asleep. The therapist will also teach you techniques to help calm your stress, anxiety, and racing mind, such as:
- Muscle Relaxation
- Deep Breathing
- Mental Imagery
CBT isn’t an instant cure to insomnia, but the therapy is empowering and will teach you tools that will help you long after the sessions are over.
Remember, insomnia can be a symptom of a serious underlying mental health condition, such as chronic anxiety and/or depression. If you don’t feel like yourself and sense that stress and anxiety are taking over your life, never hesitate to contact a mental health professional.