Defined by Psychology Today, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts resting on the idea that thoughts and perceptions influence behavior.
What many do not know when discovering sleep abnormalities is the psychological side of sleep. Many think it is snoring or staying up too late, but it actually commonly stems from something deeper. At Alaska Sleep Clinic, we are fortunate to have Dr. Angie Randazzo on staff who for more than 25 years has treated all types of sleep disorders, including insomnia, delayed sleep phase, sleep apnea, shift work and daytime fatigue/sleepiness, using behavioral techniques.
Dr. Randazzo's primary research interests include insomnia, clinical pharmacology, sleep deprivation, and the relationship between sleep and behavior. Specifically, “insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep.”
Behavioral interventions target behaviors and thinking that maintain or worsen sleep disturbances, and the techniques teach patients self-management skills to improve their sleep and resume healthy, normal sleep.
When lying awake at night, a lot of thoughts rush through the mind and can disrupt your chance to sleep. And when piling up night after night, insomnia sets in quickly. CBT can help control or eliminate these negative thoughts or worries. With the practice of good sleep habits and avoiding patterned behaviors, certain techniques can be valuable in treating insomnia.
Practices most common with CBT are with the following methods:
1. Wind Down Time
2. Simple Meditation
3. Stimulus Control
4. Sleep restriction is another common though sometimes controversial practice that has proven to be an effective treatment step in CBT for insomnia patients. Sleep restriction works by causing mild sleep deprivation to make your assigned bedtimes allow you to achieve better quality sleep. Each patient’s reaction to sleep restriction differs and is adjusted by the patient’s needs.
- 5. Cognitive reframing (used at night): restating irrational or threatening thoughts in rational terms to diffuse fear or worry.
- 6. Thought stopping (used during the daytime): learning to replace negative thoughts about sleep with positive or productive thoughts.
- 7. Process time (used in the evening): journaling thoughts/feelings and coming to a proactive step to take the next day. The following day the practice entails letting go of what was written.
- 8. Addressing worries and anxieties such as the need to constantly check the time on the clock at night.
- Other issues to address will arise during the process of implementing other techniques.
Involved in CBT is creating an oasis in the bedroom in order to effectively and positively change the patient’s view of the bedroom and sleeping. Keeping electronics off and unplugged in the bedroom is a start, but other changes can be made to improve sleep quality.
- With so many choices of fabric and style, curtain shopping can be daunting unless you go with the obvious choice: blackout. Besides lowering energy bills and canceling out noisy neighbors, the National Sleep Foundation credits blackout curtains a simple addition to help sleep. Bright lights from the streets and loud cars passing by help catch the light and noise onto the curtain versus onto your walls.
- While some can endure a quiet sleeping space with earplugs, others benefit from soft music or white noise to fill the space. Air purifiers can serve not only the issues with an eerily quiet sleeping space but also filters out impurities, dander, and dust.
Impaired sleep can seriously affect your quality of life and productivity. Behavioral changes implemented under the guidance of an experienced clinician can improve sleep quality and help you feel more alert and functional on a regular basis. Sleep is a third of your life – make it count!
Alaska Sleep Clinic is the most comprehensive multisite 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.