Whether you prefer to avoid pharmaceuticals or you just haven't had any luck with sleep aids, sometimes medication just isn't an option for treating your insomnia. Thankfully, it's not the only option out there. Cognitive behavioural therapy (more commonly known as CBT) is one of the most common methods for treating sleep disorders. Here's how this psychological treatment works to help alleviate your insomnia.
Step 1: Identifying Negative Thoughts
If you're like most insomnia sufferers, you likely have a lot of negative thoughts surrounding your condition. For example, when you don't get enough sleep, a day of work can seem like a waking nightmare. This can fill your head with negative thoughts about how if you can't fall asleep tonight, your work performance will suffer and you could lose your job. In turn, these negative thoughts make it even harder to sleep, creating a vicious circle you can't break out of unless you get rid of the negative thoughts. To do that, you need to identify them first—this is the primary step of CBT.
Step 2: Challenging Negative Thoughts
Once you know what your negative thoughts surrounding insomnia are, you can start to challenge them from a logical standpoint. During CBT, a psychiatrist or counsellor will show you how to question what you think and feel, see if there's any evidence behind it and even test whether those negative thoughts have any weight in reality. For example, you may be asked to challenge the thought that insomnia will make you lose your job. Has your boss complained about your work performance on your tired days? Can caffeine help you pull through if you don't get enough sleep? Are there other ways you can relax to prepare for work? These are all challenges you'll need to address.
Step 3: Replacing Negative Thoughts
Finally, armed with your new evidence and thought processes, you'll be able to replace your negative insomnia thoughts with positive, encouraging and accurate thoughts. Thinking positively will help you eliminate all the stress and anxiety that's keeping you from getting to sleep at night. For example, instead of thinking that you'll get fired because of your insomnia, you may tell yourself before bedtime that it's okay if you don't get enough sleep tonight because you'll be able to do a good enough job with a few cups of coffee throughout the day. These new thoughts can become like calming mantras to repeat as part of your nighttime routine.
For more information on CBT, contact a counselling centre like Takes Care Psychology Pty Ltd.