Insomnia is a common issue that can affect virtually anyone from time to time. While it’s easy to recover from a single night of inadequate sleep, about 1 in 10 Americans have chronic insomnia disorder, meaning that three nights a week they have trouble either falling or staying asleep, or both.
High blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes are just a few of the potential complications associated with inadequate sleep, which itself can be a condition or a symptom. While many people think of sleep medication as a primary treatment for sleep disorders, a psychotherapy technique called cognitive behavioral therapy may be a better front-line treatment.
Dr. Jon Deam in San Diego provides effective counseling for their patients who suffer from inadequate sleep. The reasons behind insomnia can be complex. Is insomnia a result of mental health conditions, or is it a cause of those conditions? Answers aren’t always clear.
Behavioral reasons behind insomnia
Anyone who has tossed and turned in anticipation of a big exam at school or a pressing work deadline knows clearly how their mental state can interfere with sleep. Anxiety and stress are two well-known factors that contribute to insomnia. Other conditions include depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Substance abuse can also cause sleep disturbances. While that includes drugs and alcohol, it can also include caffeinated beverages and prescribed medications. Even commonly available over-the-counter drugs with a stimulant effect can interfere with sleep.
Psychotherapy for sleep
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi) is the nondrug standard of care for insomnia. CBTi is a structured technique that helps you to recognize and replace behaviors and thought processes that contribute to poor sleep habits. Sleep medications treat only the symptoms of insomnia, while CBTi targets the root causes of inadequate sleep.
Each patient has a unique combination of thoughts and habits that contribute to their condition, so effective CBTi requires custom adaptation to your situation. Jon Deam, MD of Dr. Jon Deam typically chooses the appropriate CBTi techniques for your sleep plan after an initial consultation. These techniques include:
- Relaxation training: calming your mind and body as a priority focus
- Stimulus control therapy: removing aspects of your life that resist sleep, resetting your sleep habits
- Sleep hygiene: altering life conditions that interfere with restfulness and sleep, including patterns like caffeine consumption and restful time before bed
- Passive wakefulness (paradoxical intention): worrying you won’t sleep often interferes with actually falling asleep, and passive wakefulness helps you lose the worry
- Biofeedback: awareness of your biological markers like heart rate and muscle tension helps you gain control over the physical barriers to sleep
Your CBTi plan will likely include some of these techniques as well as others that fit your needs for improved sleep. Dr. Jon also has expertise with psychopharmacology, so short-term use of sleep medications may be used in conjunction with your therapy to improve results.