Fifty to seventy million people (40%) of American adults get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep. Besides some of the health risks from lack of sleep, we know how stressed we feel after several days of bad sleep. With anxiety and depression chances are, you’re having more difficulty than most.
“Courage is the display of a decision to let go of the familiar as you explore the unknown.”
-David L. Hanson
There are sleep therapists who specifically treat people using CBT for sleep. The actual term for a Cognitive behavioral therapist for insomnia is CBT I, or CBT Insomnia. I overcame anxiety, and back pain -practicing variations of cognitive behavioral therapy, so was optimistic that CBT would help for sleep too.
Sleep hygiene, is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness.
First I kept a sleep diary to get an idea of how much sleep I was getting, what time I went to bed, and what time I got up, which gave insight about what helped or hindered my routine.
I was given a sleep window which is a designated bedtime and wake up time that must be followed. The reason for the sleep window is because sleep restriction is important in order to help your body get used to a regular sleep schedule.
Rise And Shine
Bedtime was 10:30 and wake up was 5:30. I didn’t feel tired at night, so I had to stay up later and get up early for a week or two, or until I felt tired at bedtime.
If I felt tired earlier I still had to wait until 10:30 to go to bed. And if I was not tired by 10:30 I had to stay up until I felt sleepy, but I still had to wake up at 5:30.
Ground Rules to Follow to Achieve Success
1. Stay awake until your sleep window
You may have to fight your sleepiness so you can stay awake.
2. Go to bed only when you are sleepy
If your sleep window says you should go to bed at 10, but you are not sleepy, you should stay up until you are sleepy. Your sleep window is the time when you are allowed to sleep, not when you must sleep.
3. If you can’t sleep, get out of bed
Never stay in bed more than 30-45 minutes. This is so that you will learn to see your bed as a place you want to go every night that will give you sleep, and not anxiety or sleeplessness.
Make A Nest
Set up a nice comfortable place (a nest) for you to go to before you go to bed so it will be ready if you can’t sleep. This inviting place could be a comfortable spot on the couch with a warm blanket, pillows, and a book.
4. Wake up at the same time every morning
Regardless of how you slept, you should get out of bed at the same time everyday because your body will do better with a consistent schedule.
5. No naps
You should not nap during the day or at night. Staying awake will help increase your chances of sleep at night.
6. Use your bedroom for sleep and sex only
Don’t read, use your phone, watch TV, or work in your bedroom. It teaches your mind that your bedroom is a place for wakefulness, not sleep.
7. Unwind before bedtime
Give yourself 1 hour to unwind, doing something relaxing. Do not do anything that stimulates your mind or body. If you exercise, do this at least 3 hours before bedtime.
8. Use a pre-sleep routine before going to bed
It’s good to keep the same routine before you go to bed – like putting on your PJ’s, washing your face, brushing your teeth, checking to see if the doors are locked, etc. These things will cue your mind that bedtime is near.
Our Body Clock
The circadian rhythm is our “body clock,” a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, eat—regulating many physiological processes. This internal body clock is affected by light, time, temperature and melatonin to name a few.
The Longer We Are Awake The More Tired We Feel
The longer we have been awake, the stronger the desire and need to sleep becomes, and the more the likelihood of falling asleep increases; the longer we have been asleep, the more the pressure to sleep dissipates, and the more the likelihood of awakening increases.
How Sleep Works
Learning how sleep works may take the pressure off of getting to sleep. Our bodies are naturally designed to do this. So if we have good sleep hygiene, and we get rid of the unhealthy beliefs about what we think will happen if we miss a day or two of bad sleep, then our bodies should naturally take care of the rest.
Don’t Try To Sleep
I learned not to TRY and sleep. Sleep should find you. I let my mind wander after I climb into bed and if I start worrying about something, I tell myself that it’s time to sleep – I can’t change anything now – so take care of it tomorrow. Some say thinking about “nothing” helps them fall asleep. Others try to stay awake while lying in bed to purposely fight sleep.
Pen and Paper
Keep a paper and pen nearby. If something pops up that you don’t want to forget, write it down so you can clear your mind.
My Sleep Hygiene Improved
- I corrected a lot of misconceptions I had about sleep
- Nothing bad happens if I have a few bad nights of sleep
- I don’t stress if I don’t sleep well
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time (even on the weekends, give or take an hour) makes it easier to sleep.
CBT For Sleep
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for sleep can help you maximize your sleep performance while clearing up misconceptions that you may have so you can feel less anxious and more rested.
What methods do you use for a good night’s sleep?