Is My Insomnia Treatable?

You’ve had weeks of tossing and turning and you’re wondering: what can I do about this?

The first step is to assess your symptoms and rule out medical causes. Do you snore? Does your bed partner say you stop breathing? Exploring these issues could mean a sleep test is warranted to understand if you have sleep apnea.

If no medical issues seem present, our first therapy session will be to explore how long you’ve suffered from poor sleep, your family history, life stressors, anxiety and depression which may all be contributing to symptoms.

Next, you’ll learn how to complete a sleep journal. This is a tool we use to track and measure your sleep. For the first week, you’ll keep this journal, noting your sleep cycle and factors impinging on a good night’s rest.

The first week is to develop your baseline sleep pattern. We won’t do any treatment then.

In the second and subsequent weeks, we will work to change your habits to bring about better sleep. Do you worry in bed, then become more anxious about lack of sleep itself? Do you work in bed, or use a computer that may be keeping you up from the blue-green light it emits? Are you naturally someone who likes to go to bed late then awaken late, but forced to conform to a work schedule that leaves you exhausted?

To help you sleep, we’ll teach you about cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), a protocol that is the treatment of choice for this disorder.

CBT-I has three components: sleep hygiene, stimulus control and sleep restriction.

Sleep hygiene means overcoming habits that get in the way of naturally restful sleep.

Stimulus control involves isolating and removing behaviors that create conditioned arousal, where your mind associates the bed and bedroom as cues for wakefulness.

Sleep restriction means assessing the amount of sleep your body really needs, then restricting you to somewhat less so that you fall asleep and stay asleep. Over several weeks, we’ll increase your time in bed so your body’s sleep need matches your opportunity for sleep.

A straightforward protocol, CBT-I is the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s first line treatment for insomnia. With the investment of a few weeks of effort, your sleep problems are treatable.