Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is an evidence-based non-drug treatment for insomnia that demonstrates lasting results and is completely safe. Quality sleep is frequently underated by most people, but it is just as important as diet and exercise. When insomnia becomes chronic, it can lead to medical and psychiatric problems, such as hypertension, increased risk for stroke, weight gain, diabetes Type 2, back pain, major depression, substance dependence, and cognitive impairment.
In the last few years insomnia been reconceptualized as not just another symptom of a medical or psychiatric condition, but as a true disorder of its own. Insomnia symptoms include trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restful sleep, along with daytime effects such as irritability, mood disturbance, memory, concentration, and problem solving impairments, issues at work and in relationships, and increased suicidal thinking. In addition, the person with insomnia may feel "supercharged" 24 hours per day and unable to take a nap during the day, even if he/she wanted to.
Fortunately, there are treatments for insomnia, with one of them being Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a well researched and supported non-drug treatment approach. Within a few weeks, all of my clients have reported significantly improved quantity and quality of sleep, without the use of medications.
CBT-I is a 6-week long treatment consisting of five 45-minute individual or group sessions. Sessions 1 through 4 are held weekly. Session 5 is held 2 weeks after session 4. BCBS PPO covers treatment. Length of treatment may vary depending on how long insomnia has been present and if sleep aids have been used for a long time.
Here are answers to some common questions regarding this form of therapy:
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
Insomnia is a common problem characterized by trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting restful sleep. In addition, the sleep disturbance causes impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning. The symptoms are present for at least 3 nights/ week for at least 3 months.
How does Cognitive Behavioral therapy for insomnia work?
Cogntive Behavioral therapy utilizes techniques that help you identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sleep. Unlike sleeping pills, cognitive behavioral therapy helps you overcome the underlying causes or your sleep problems rather than just relieving symptoms. It is a treatment that takes some time and effort to make it work and is not a quick fix, but it is a lasting fix.
What is involved in the treatment for insomnia?
There are several components to the treatment:
Stimulus control therapy
Maintaining a sleep log
How effective is it?
This treatment is shown to be more effective than taking sleeping pills. The effects of the therapy seem to last and there is no evidence that the therapy has any negative side effects. The treatment methods require steady practice and motivation to try the techniques. Some approaches may cause you to lose sleep at first, but if you stick with it, you are likely to see lasting results.
Who can benefit ?
CBT-I can benefit nearly anyone with sleep problems. It is a good treatment choice if you have long-term sleep problems that are not due to any medical, psychiatric, or environmental causes. It is a good fit for anyone worried about being dependent on sleep medications. If you are currently being treated by a mental health professional for anxiety or depression, this program can be taken concurrently.
What if I am currently using sleeping pills?
This treatment can be started while you are using sleeping pills. During the course of treatment, a plan for gradually reducing use of sleeping pills is implemented. In certain cases, a combination of sleep medication and cognitive behavioral therapy is the best approach. Collaboration with your physician will be important if you are using sleeping pills.
Will insurance cover this?
Some insurance companies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, will cover Insomnia treatment. Please check with your insurance company to verify this. If it is not covered, it might be possible to submit a claim for partial reimbursement.
How do I get started?
If interested, please contact Rima at (630) 901-1154 or use the form below. If you decide this is something that could help you, an initial Sleep Assessment can be scheduled to determine if this treatment is right for you. During the treatment process, a sleep log will be required to keep track of progress over time. It will be important to keep in mind that we will be meeting for 4 weeks in a row, with a final meeting 2 weeks after the fourth session. If sleep has not significantly improved by the end of treatment, a sleep study may be recommended.
Online video counseling is offered as an option for clients whose schedules make it difficult to attend appointments in the office. Please note that insurance does not always cover online sessions. For self pay clients, sessions for CBT-I are $60/hour. Please contact Rima if interested.
This non-drug insomnia treatment program was developed by Dr. Gregg D. Jacobs, an Insomnia Specialist at the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Boston. His program is based on over 20 years of research and clinical practice involving over 10,000 patients. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I, is the treatment of choice of the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
For additional information about CBT-I, view National Sleep Foundation's article Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia.