What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?
CBT helps you identify the specific negative attitudes and damaging beliefs that are currently impeding your sleep, and replaces them with positive thoughts. CBT states that we can reinforce beliefs and behaviors through thought alone – by rehearsing them in our brain. With this strategy, you’re effectively ‘unlearning’ those negative beliefs.The techniques for altering your thought patterns via CBT are known collectively as ‘cognitive restructuring’. This is similar to reprogramming your brain to think and react the way you want it to.
If you’re dealing with insomnia, an example of a CBT exercise that can help you deal with it is to put aside a 30-minute time frame in which you do all of the worrying you’re going to do on any given day. During this time period you maintain a journal of the worrying thoughts because putting your thoughts down on paper is an effective way in which to reduce them.
You’re now not allowed to do any worrying at any other time of the day other than this 30-minute time frame. And before bedtime, you put down all of the worries that you predict might occupy your mind in bed, and then put them out of your mind. When in bed you close your eyes and visualize those issues drifting away in a balloon, with your mind free and unbothered by these worries.
Stimulus Control – 20 minute rule
If you’re dealing with insomnia, bedtime may be a time you come to dread, knowing that the condition is going to leave you tossing and turning. So you can safely conclude that bedtime and possibly your bed are causing a negative response. In consequence, this technique makes you regard your bed just for sleep and sex. You’ll avoid working on your computer, watching TV, texting or even speaking on the phone.
You only go to bed when you’re tired, and if you cannot get to sleep after 20 minutes, you go and do something that will relax your mind, such as listen to soothing music or engage in breathing and muscle relaxation exercises. You’ll also avoid things like staying around bright lights, using your laptop or watching TV. When you begin to feel sleepy again, you go back to bed. The overall objective is to build a strong association between your bed and sleep. Eventually, you’ll be able to fall asleep soon after you get into bed, and going to bed will no longer fill you with a sense of dread.
Sleep restriction involves only utilizing the time period in bed that equates to the average number of hours that you actually sleep. For instance, if five hours is the maximum amount of sleep that you get, even though you spend as much as eight hours in bed, you set a limit of 5 hours in bed every night. You might get more tired with this method initially, however it can contribute to helping you sleep quicker and wake up less frequently. Note however, that this technique will not be right for you if you’re spending less than 3 hours in bed. You should also work with a qualified CBT sleep practitioner.
Sleep Hygiene Training
Sleep hygiene basically involves sticking to the lifestyle habits that you can apply to your nightly routines that promote great sleep at night. There are a number of factors that cause disrupted sleep, so if you form and stick to good sleep habits, there is a higher likelihood of you eliminating the factors that are disrupting your sleep. One of the most underrated sleep hygiene practices that really goes far in improving the quality of sleep is making the right dietary choices.