The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recommends Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) as a first-line treatment for chronic insomnia. Although medications may help relieve insomnia, the effects are often short and side effects are common.
We often think of insomnia as a medical illness, which requires medication. However, the traditional medications used to address insomnia can have severe side effects. Hypnotic medications, such as Ambien, are associated with sleepwalking, aggression, odd behavior, and can actually cause your insomnia to worsen. In fact, the FDA recommends that these medications are used only as a temporary solution.
The good news is that there is an effective non-pharmacological treatment for insomnia called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). CBT-I addresses your thoughts, emotions and behaviors so that you can overcome the cause of your insomnia and significantly improve sleep quality.
CBT-I incorporates different techniques to address insomnia, including:
- Cognitive Therapy: Addresses the negative thinking that perpetuates bad sleep.
- Good Sleep Hygiene: Establishes new behaviors that have been shown to improve sleep, such as associating bed with sleep and intimacy; reducing caffeine intake in the evening; eliminating naps; removing electronic devices before bed; turning away your alarm clock; and exercise.
- Relaxation Techniques: Allows your mind and body a time to relax and wind down. Biofeedback, visual guided meditation, progressive muscle relaxation exercises, self-guided hypnosis, deep breathing and formal meditation are all ways that can help you calm down so that you can more easily transition into a sleep state.
If you are having trouble with insomnia and would like to try natural treatment methods, Dr. Mazzei, Health Psychologist, offers CBT-I both at her office and in online counseling. Please contact her office to schedule an initial consultation.