Updated: Nov 20
"I don’t remember the last time I got a good night's sleep.” “I typically wake up multiple times throughout the night.” "It takes me hours to fall asleep at night.” If you can relate to any of these challenges, you may be experiencing insomnia.
Insomnia disorder is defined as dissatisfaction with sleep quality or quantity, associated with one or more of the following symptoms: difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep (frequent awakenings or problems returning to sleep after awakening), and early morning awakening with inability to return to sleep. An occasional sleepless night before a stressful event such as an important exam, job interview, or first day of school is not unusual. If difficulty sleeping is the norm rather than an exception, and occurs at least three nights per week for at least three months, you may be experiencing insomnia.
Research has identified various biological mechanisms at play during sleep, including restoring and repairing cells and tissues that are damaged or destroyed while we are awake, improving immune responses, and maintaining metabolism. There are also various psychological functions impacted by sleep, including, cognition, attention, memory consolidation, and mental and emotional health. An interruption of these crucial functions can lead to a great deal of impairment in function or mood.
Experiencing insomnia can be distressing, to say the least. For those who express their frustration about their sleep difficulties, family and friends usually offer suggestions for quick-fix solutions: buy a more comfortable mattress and pillows, stop drinking caffeine, or take melatonin supplements. After trying some of these remedies with minimal impact on your quality of sleep, you may be feeling helpless and have little hope that your sleep will ever improve.
Fortunately, research indicates that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is an effective treatment and has been recognized as a first-line treatment. CBT-I is a structured treatment plan that typically lasts for approximately six sessions. Some components of treatment for insomnia include keeping track of sleep patterns, addressing thoughts and behaviors that interfere with sleep, and managing the amount of time spent in bed. As with other forms of psychotherapy, collaboration with a treatment provider is crucial to effectively address individual challenges.
If you have been experiencing difficulty sleeping and believe you may be experiencing insomnia, I encourage you to schedule a phone consultation to learn more about treatment options.