What is Sleep Therapy and CBTi?

Posted by Darian Dozier on Jun 5, 2023 7:53:00 AM

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When you aren't sleeping well, many aspects of your life seem to not go well. You can't concentrate, you aren't motivated, and you start to see an increase in conflict in your interpersonal relationships. 

Improving sleep can be done in a stepwise fashion through addressing the root of the issue. Sometimes it's a sleep disorder, which you can identify through a polysomnography. Those are more straightforward than causes such as a mental health disorder, or worse, then unknown. If you are struggling with sleep, and can't seem to be able to change it on your own, then you may need some help. 

Sleep therapy may offer you the support and direction you need to establish why you are not sleeping well. Getting adequate sleep is important, as sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your life. Continue reading to learn more about what sleep therapy can do for you!

What is sleep therapy? 

Sleep therapy is a type of therapy that is all about your sleep. There are other types of therapy, such as psychotherapy, physical therapy speech therapy, and occupational therapy, each with their own focus and goals. 

Sleep therapy primarily focuses on your sleep, and the end goal is to improve your sleep quality. This type of intervention can be very helpful for sleep disorders like insomnia, and can also help with other mental and physical health conditions. 

When you are having sleep troubles, the question becomes is the sleep the primary issue, or is there something else that needs to be addressed that is affecting your sleep? 

Types of sleep therapy 

Sleep therapy comes in different forms, but the most common one is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-i). CBT-i is the gold-standard for evidence-based treatment of sleep problems. It helps you recognize and replace unhealthy sleep-related thoughts and behaviors through conscious new behaviors and attitudes. It aims to incorporate effectual sleep habits and behaviors, and reduce those that may be antagonistic to help. 


A therapist who specializes in CBTi may utilize different techniques to help you improve your sleep. Because sleep is multi-influenced, this means that various aspects of your life have to be addressed to help you with your sleep. Your therapist may conduct a detailed assessment to determine why you are not sleeping, and rely on various techniques for treatment. 

One focus is on improving sleep hygiene, improving both your sleep behaviors and routines. This could entail changing lifestyle habits that influence sleep, such as what goes into your body, and activities you engage in during the day (i.e. exercise).

Another aspect they may focus on is your sleep environment. Where you go to sleep, and how comfortable it is greatly influences your ability to get good sleep. Your therapist may recommend changing certain aspects of your sleep environment, making sure that it is quiet, dark, and cool. This may also include hiding any sources of light like phones, electronics, and clocks. 

Stimulus control involves removing things from your room that can be antagonistic towards your sleep efforts. So, if you use your bedroom for anything other than sleep, you condition your mind to associate your bed with those activities. Your bed should be used for sleep and sex only. No lying down to watch TV, and definitely nothing stressful like working. Remove any distractions from your bed, and do not go to bed until you are ready to fall asleep. 

Paradoxical intention is another technique that can be utilized in CBTi. It requires you to commit to staying awake. THis works because you are not worried about not being able to sleep. You can let go of any anxiety you have about falling asleep, which can make it easier to fall asleep. 

Benefits of sleep therapy 

Sleep therapy can help with a variety of sleep-related issues, including sleep disorders, mental health conditions, and physical health conditions. 

Not only can sleep therapy help with the management of these disorder, but there are other benefits. Sleep therapy provides great insight into the practice of sleep itself. By understanding why sleep is so important, and what may be some barriers to achieving good sleep, you can become more intune with yourself. 

Sleep therapy also targets unhealthy sleep-related thoughts. The mind plays such an important role in sleeping, more than what we may be aware. Unhealthy thoughts such as, "I can't ever sleep", "I'll never be good at sleeping", and "Oh great, another sleepless night tonight" are antagonistic towards getting good sleep. However, therapy will work on targeting those thoughts, and changing them so they are more productive.

Sleep therapy teaches you what healthy sleep behaviors are, and encourages you to use them. Not only is sleep therapy great for sleep-related issues, but it can also target mental health disorders that may be influencing sleep. By finding behavioral methods of managing all of these issues, CBTi can reduce the dependence on medication. 

Sleep therapy is very effective, improving insomnia symptoms, perceived energy levels, productivity, self-esteem, and overall well-being. It requires consistent application and practice for the benefits to be sustained, possibly even leading to a temporary worsening of symptoms before they improve. Therefore, it's important to continue doing the work, even in the face of transient deteriorating sleep. 

If you would like to consider CBTi, then please click on the orange button below to take a free online sleep test and talk with one of our sleep health professionals. 

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