It’s estimated that from 6% to 10% of Americans suffer from insomnia that is serious and disruptive enough to be classified as a clinical disorder. Insomniacs may suffer with fatigue and distress that makes their lives difficult. They may have poor cognitive function and mood disturbances. It is a problem that needs to be treated. Commonly, sleep medicines are prescribed. Cognitive therapy may be a better answer. Here are 6 things to know about insomnia and cognitive therapy.
1. Sleeping Pills can put a person at risk. Plus, they don’t always work well. One study found that certain sleep medications can double the risk of having a car accident. The FDA has found that drugs may remain in the system long enough to make morning driving more dangerous. They have recommended lower dosages.
2. Cognitive Therapy is both time-consuming and difficult – especially at the beginning. However, studies point out that the results last a lifetime. You may know some of the cognitive changes that need to be made, but often if your sleep is disturbed night after night, you may need the help of a professional to stick with the changes and make them work.
3. Don’t Worry — stress is named as one of the contributors to sleep disorders. Cognitive therapy will help you learn how to handle problems and worries. You will learn tricks and techniques that will help you set them aside and think of calm, relaxing – sleep inducing – things as bedtime rolls around.
4. Bad Habits are Addressed. These may be things we know – like screen time interferes with sleep time or that staying in bed looking at the clock may do more to keep you awake than put you to sleep. However, learning how to actually do these things in a professional setting may give you the ability to change your habits and get restful, restorative sleep.
5. See Your Doctor if your life is being negatively impacted by a lack of being able to sleep. Guidelines in the Annals of Internal Medicine encourage talking to your doctor. Many people suffer from insomnia without ever mentioning it to a physician. Be proactive. Help yourself by reaching out for help.
Even when you discuss insomnia with your doctor, he or she may feel uncomfortable with a therapeutic treatment. If you think it’s what you need, keep talking. Cognitive therapy can be individual or in a group setting. Doctors have noted that it is frustrating to them that cognitive therapy may be difficult to arrange, but they note that while pills only work when you take them; cognitive sleep therapy can last a lifetime. So, do your part. Talk to your doctor. Ask about therapy. Make sure you have a comfortable, supportive mattress – many experts recommend latex mattresses which are available on the Internet — and that your bedroom is a place for sleep, not TV watching or sending emails on your smartphone. No matter what it takes, get the help you need to get the sleep you need!