Insomnia can be considered a lack of sleep because of poor quality or poor quantity of sleep. Frequently, when we suffer from insomnia, our sleep is fragmented; we experience difficulty falling asleep, multiple awakenings during sleep and difficulty falling asleep, or we wake up too early and cannot return to sleep. If this continues, the accompanying fatigue and emotional disruption can wreak havoc on our ability to work, maintain positivity, and be productive in our lives.
Sleep disturbances like insomnia can cause, result from, or simply exist alongside, other conditions. As such, it is important to distinguish exactly what is causing the problem, and to address it completely. OMH providers will often work together to address insomnia by utilizing a combination of behavioral strategies, and sometimes medical therapies designed to provide symptom control and longer term maintenance of healthy sleep patterns. Insomnia that is problematic enough to cause perceived daytime impairment or distress is approximately 10% (1). There are a variety of treatment options for insomnia, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological. Examples of non-medication based treatment include sleep hygiene, relaxation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. In fact, according to the American College of Physicians, cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is recommended as the initial treatment for long-term insomnia (2). Other interventions in coordination with other medical providers might be required as well, depending on the specific nature of your presenting problem.
CBT-I is a time-limited treatment choice that helps reduce insomnia and addresses psychological stressors. CBT-I generally lasts four to eight sessions and each session is organized with techniques/skills to help you improve sleep. Your therapist will work with you to complete and review sleep logs in order to identify patterns and behaviors that lead to poor sleep. Using a systematic approach, a central goal of this approach will be to decrease the amount of time spent lying awake in bed. Additionally, education and skills building to promote healthier sleep habits is offered throughout the course of CBT-I work.
(1) National Institutes of Health State of the Science Conference statement on Manifestations and Management of Chronic Insomnia in Adults, June 13-15, 2005.
(2) Guidelines Committee of the American College of Physicians. Management of Chronic Insomnia Disorder in Adults: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2016;165:125-133.