What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia? (CBT-i)

There are a number of techniques that come under the umbrella of CBT-i. If you are interested in understanding how it works before deciding if it’s right for you, please find an overview of each technique below.

Stimulus Control Therapy

This aims to create a strong association between the bed and sleep and its basic principles are; only go to bed when you are tired, limit the activities in bed to sleep and sex only, get out of bed at the same time every morning and when sleep-onset does not occur within a 30 minute period.

Sleep Restriction Therapy

The aim of sleep restriction is to restore the natural drive to sleep by restricting your time in bed (TIB) so that it is equal to the average time spent asleep (TST). Your sleep efficiency is then calculated and then as a general rule if your sleep efficiency is greater than 90% time spent in bed (TIB) needs to increase by 15 minutes and if its less than 80% reduce time spent in bed (TIB) by 15 minutes.

Sleep hygiene

This is a basic set of ‘rules’ designed to control the environment and behaviours that precede sleep, they usually involve bedtime routines, diet and exercise that may be pivotal to our well-being.

Cognitive Therapy

This is designed to decrease the anxiety and arousal associated with insomnia by targeting any dysfunctional beliefs and attitudes you may have about sleep; “I cannot function without a good night’s sleep,” “I am worried that I will never get a good night’s sleep”, “I need 8 hours of sleep to feel at my best”, “I can only sleep if I take a sleeping pill”, “Insomnia is just part of growing older”.

Relaxation Therapy

This aims to help you relax prior to bedtime and helps you fall asleep. Various techniques used by therapists include hypnosis, guided imagery and meditation. Essentially anything that helps you wind down and relax at the end of the day will help however, relaxation therapy on its own is not considered sufficient treatment for insomnia.

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