Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia, also known as CBTI, has been proven to be the most effective treatment for insomnia and is now recommended as the first line treatment for managing chronic sleeping difficulties (NICE, 2021).
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) works on the basis that your thoughts, feelings and behaviours are all connected. For many years, CBT has been primarily used for the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, however extensive research has recently proven that it is also beneficial for conditions like insomnia. It has high success rates and prevents relapse long-term because rather than just masking the problem, it teaches you how to make adjustments to resolve the underlying cause.
What does CBTI involve?
There are many components to CBTI. Any reputable practitioner should introduce all of the components with you but it may be appropriate to focus on some aspects more than other depending on the causes of your insomnia. Some of the components are behaviour-focussed and target any habits you might be carrying out to improve your sleep pattern, and some components focus on your thinking patterns and feelings towards sleep. Often, people need help reducing their anxious thoughts towards sleep and any worry or the racing mind that they experience when they can't sleep.
Everything that should be covered during your sessions includes:
Full history taking to determine the causes of your sleeping problems and any lifestyle behaviours that may be influencing your sleep
Identifying negative thought patterns, anxious or dysfunctional thoughts you may have about sleep and/or going to bed
Interventions to challenge those thoughts and reduce their impact
Relaxation therapy and other interventions which calm the racing mind. Common therapies include meditation, guided imagery, breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation and autogenic training
Stimulus control therapy shows you what to do when you can't sleep
Sleep restriction therapy or sleep compression therapy is helpful if your sleep pattern needs adjusting
Relapse prevention to help you implement these steps into your sleep health long-term
How can CBTI help insomnia?
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, 1 in 4 people in Europe report sleeping difficulties. There are many products available which claim to help with sleep but it doesn’t matter how much you spend on these if it’s not treating the underlying cause of your insomnia. CBTI has been proven to be the only sleep aid with a high success rate.
The reason CBTI is so effective is because it helps you to relearn how to sleep well. Your body has not lost the ability to sleep, it is simply harder to relax your mind and body enough to fall asleep quickly and easily. CBTI shows you the difference between your thoughts, feelings, behaviour patterns and habits and those of a naturally good sleeper. It’s likely that you’re much more anxious, frustrated and alert which is why you cannot sleep. But it is difficult to change these feelings without help.
What happens if CBTI doesn’t work?
CBTI is the most effective treatment for insomnia and has a very high success rate, above 80% in most instances. The reason CBTI is so successful is because it treats the underlying cause of your insomnia rather than masking it. The benefits of other treatments do not last because they do not treat those factors which caused your insomnia in the first place. Things like sleep hygiene advice, CBD oil, sleeping pills, etc are not designed to prevent insomnia relapse and the cost can add up to much more than a course of CBTI.
In theory, CBTI should work in every case. The small percentage of people that it doesn’t work for is usually down to their adherence to the programme. Listening to the advice during the therapy sessions is part of it, but implementing it into your daily schedule every night is the key.
The chances of CBTI not working if you follow all of the steps correctly is so small that we offer a money back guarantee if it does not improve your insomnia (and you can prove that you have followed all of the stages).