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Holistic Sleep: CBT-I is an Integrative Approach to Insomnia

Originally posted July 17, 2017.

Sleep disturbances are one of the most common reasons for people to visit their primary care physician. Their sleep is not refreshing, they can’t fall asleep, or they have night-time or early morning awakenings, they say.

The lack of restorative sleep results in work deficits, feelings of exhaustion, mental health consequences of depression and anxiety, and actual anxieties and fears about going to bed!

About that depression. Are you depressed because of lack of sleep or is sleeplessness a symptom of your depression? Growing evidence suggests that chronic insomnia precedes a diagnosis of depression.

Are lifestyle changes enough to reverse chronic insomnia?

Aromatherapy? Cooler bedroom temperature? Supplements? Relaxation practices such as aromatherapy, massage and meditation? Medication?

Yes, lifestyle changes and good sleep hygiene are part of an overall treatment plan to reverse chronic insomnia.

Yes, there are elements of truth in all of these solutions. Yes, supplements may help, medication can help, aromatherapy can be relaxing, temperature control is important and screen time limits are helpful for your well being.

However, research has shown that chronic insomnia is not cured through lifestyle changes, as it does not address the underlying conditioned response that have perpetuated sleeplessness.

Good sleep hygiene is usually not enough to help coax your body back into your natural, homeostatic cycle of deep, restorative sleep.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia, also called CBT-I, has been endorsed by all the major medical societies as the first line of treatment for chronic insomnia.

CBT-I treatment addresses insomnia via multiple components. We look at all underlying causes. We’ll explore your thoughts and behaviors around sleep and wakefulness.

Often insomnia begins with some disturbing life event, such as a divorce, an illness, or a death in the family. And then the disturbance in your sleep cycle inadvertently becomes a habit. Your body seeks balance between its wake and sleep cycles, but behaviorally and emotionally, sleeplessness becomes a habit. This habit disturbs your work and personal life. Frustration builds around the idea of sleep and your insomnia begins to play a larger and larger role in your life.

It takes about 6 -8 individualized sessions of CBT-I over 3 months to rebalance your sleep-wake cycle. Throughout the treatment, we’ll explore the beginnings and patterns of your insomnia and then co-create a sleep schedule wherein you will restore balance between your wakefulness and sleep cycles once again and you’ll be sleeping like your dog!

The CBT-I program helps you mindfully modify your thoughts and behaviors that have coalesced around sleep, in a respectful and individualized way. Plus, you can choose to use complementary methods, such as craniosacral therapy and aromatherapy to supplement your CBT-I sessions, to your personalized, individualized needs.


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