Have you had insomnia all your life? Have your parents said you were a poor sleeper even as a baby?
Trouble sleeping that starts early in life is called idiopathic insomnia. If insomnia is still the black box of sleep disorders, then idiopathic insomnia is the little black box inside the black box.
Here’s what is known about the disorder and options for management.
Do you have a persistent sleep problem? Make cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia your No. 1 New Year’s resolution for 2017.
Here’s what you stand to gain, what may stand in the way, and where to find help.
When people write in with lots of questions about insomnia, I’ll often recommend seeing a sleep specialist or a sleep therapist who can provide cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).
But finding sleep specialists and sleep therapists can be tricky. Here’s why you might want to consult one and how to locate the right provider.
Psychophysiologic insomnia: This was my diagnosis when I finally decided to see a doctor about my sleep. I didn’t like the sound of it. “Psycho” came before “physiologic,” and to me the implication was that my trouble sleeping was mostly in my head.
My insomnia felt physical, accompanied as it was by bodily warmth, muscle tension, and a jittery feeling inside. I was anxious about sleep, too, and my thoughts weren’t exactly upbeat. But surely putting the psycho before the physiologic was putting the cart before the horse?
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is now the gold standard in drug-free treatments for insomnia. The benefits are often long lasting.
Researchers have created and are now testing a briefer form of CBT-I called brief behavioral treatment for insomnia (BBTI). BBTI isn’t widely available yet. But with health insurance companies clamoring for providers to rein in costs, BBTI is the wave of the future.
A long-term user of sleeping pills wrote to Ask The Savvy Insomniac with questions about cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. “Before I go through CBT, will I have to give up my sleeping pills? I’d like to get off them eventually, but every time I think of doing it I freak out.”
Recently I looked into research on insomnia sufferers going through CBT while at the same time tapering off (or reducing reliance on) sleeping pills. What I found was encouraging.
Could simply changing your thoughts about insomnia lead to better sleep? Some sleep therapists claim it works this way. They promote a process called “cognitive restructuring,” typically offered as part of cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia. It involves identifying negative thoughts about sleep and then challenging them. The goal is to wind up with thoughts that are more sleep friendly.
Sounds like a tall order, right? I agree. I’ll say up front that I had limited success with it myself. But the experts say this exercise is helpful for many who struggle with chronic insomnia. You may be one.
A new study confirms that in the early weeks of treatment, sleep restriction—a part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for insomnia—really is a cross to bear.
Seems like a no-brainer to me. But in research, quantification is important, and what these UK researchers have done is actually a good thing. (I’ll explain why later on.) Here are five tips for insomnia sufferers planning to undergo treatment.