According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as a third of American male adults aren’t regularly getting enough sleep. There are many possible reasons as to why an individual could struggle sleeping, with the most prevalent including poor mental health or bad sleep hygiene.
Whether you’re consumed with stress or are suffering from negative thought cycles, many common problems can be solved by seeking professional help. Whilst the connection between counselling and improved sleep may not seem an obvious one, the two are inextricably linked and it can have a profound impact on your quality of sleep and ultimately quality of life.
Below we explore a few ways in which a counselor can help with this aspect of your life, and highlight any potential drawbacks compared to other ways of improving sleep.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
One of the most common and effective methods a counselor may employ to help improve your quality of sleep is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is a talking therapy designed to alter your thought patterns and ultimately break any negative thought cycles which can contribute to a lower quality of sleep.
By identifying the negative thoughts that are consuming your headspace, CBT can be used to break these thoughts down from an overwhelming problem into more manageable thoughts.
This type of therapy has been commended for its longer term benefits. A successful course of CBT can allow the patient to almost become their own therapist, by teaching them how to cope with potentially harmful thoughts unassisted.
It has to be said, CBT is not a cure-all solution and will not be the best course of action for everybody. Unlike with other forms of therapy, the emphasis with CBT is placed heavily on the patient to practice altering their maladaptive thinking. This is a skill in itself which can take time to master.
There are many common bad habits that can contribute to a bad night’s sleep: using electrical devices, consuming caffeine late at night and so on. Whilst these seem to be quick and easy fixes, the problems may lie much deeper.
Feeling anxious or worried can force you to constantly check your phone when in bed which can accelerate your negative thought cycle, and ultimately lead to a poorer quality of sleep.
This is another way a counselor can intervene to help break up any bad habits, and replace them with good ones to improve your sleep hygiene and ultimately aid your sleeping routine.
Bad habits aren’t just about what you do at night time, they can also creep into your daily routine. For instance, having daytime naps or not doing enough exercise can inhibit your ability to sleep well at night. These two examples of bad habits can sometimes stem from issues with one’s mental health, particularly feelings of low self-esteem or lack of motivation.
A counselor can help you to replace these bad habits with good ones by identifying the negative thoughts that are leading you to make poor decisions when it comes to optimal conditions for a good night’s sleep.
Therapy vs Medicine
Extensive research has been carried out into whether counselling and CBT in particular is more effective than medicinal methods, and studies show that, particularly in the long term, talking therapy has proven more effective.
Research has revealed that on average, CBT helps patients fall asleep 20 minutes faster, and be awake during the night 30 minutes fewer than those who hadn’t undergone the therapy.
Furthermore, these results have shown to be as good, or in some cases better, than the effects of prescribed sleeping medicines. They can also continue to yield results after the course has finished, due to the self-sustaining nature of the therapy.
Alaska Sleep Clinic is the most comprehensive multi-site sleep lab in Alaska with clinics in Anchorage, Wasilla, Fairbanks, and Soldotna and we continue to expand our services to those with sleep disorders. No other CBT sleep specialist provides care in the state of Alaska with Dr. Randazzo available to Alaska Sleep Clinic patients via telemedicine, through SleepTM.