Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for our overall mental health and well-being. However, many people struggle with falling asleep due to worries that keep them awake at night. Around 10% of adults have chronic insomnia in the U.S., as per insomnia statistics in America.
Long-term patterns of having difficulties sleeping define chronic insomnia. That means the person has trouble falling or staying asleep at least three nights a week for three or more months. Equally important, short-term insomnia may eventually become chronic insomnia (Sleep Foundation, 2023). Whether it’s work-related stress, relationship issues, financial concerns, health worries, or future uncertainties, these persistent thoughts can disrupt our sleep patterns and affect our daily functioning. CBT for Insomnia helps you develop the routines and strategies to manage sleep-interfering thoughts and get back to a restful night’s sleep. I will describe 2 of these essential strategies below.
It’s important to identify the specific worries that disrupt your sleep. These worries may vary from person to person, but common ones include work-related stress, relationship issues, financial concerns, health worries, and of course, the daunting prospect of not sleeping well tonight. Reflecting on your own worries and understanding the triggers can be the first step in addressing them and improving your sleep quality.
Essential Strategy 1:
Schedule and engage in a “worry time” exercise at least an hour before bed: Plan at least 15 minutes each night to intentionally think of and write down your worries in a journal or on a piece of paper. This can help you process your thoughts, externalize them, and create a sense of closure before bedtime. Additionally, later in the evening if you notice your thoughts beginning to generate any further “to do’s” or “what if” automatic thoughts, you can quickly and gently remind yourself that everything has already been covered for now, and you can safely release engaging with them.
Essential Strategy 2:
Develop a practice of mindfulness and relaxation techniques as part of your bedtime routine: Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation, can help calm the mind and body before bedtime. These techniques can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and create a conducive environment for falling asleep. Learning to observe your worry thoughts as they arise, and letting them come and go without becoming stuck in them is a vital skill in allowing sleep to come. You can learn more and access some free guided mindfulness exercises here.
Improving sleep quality is essential for overall well-being, and reducing worry is a crucial step in achieving restful sleep. Working with a qualified provider trained in CBT for Insomnia can help
you implement the proven techniques to your unique worries and sleep history. With consistent effort and practice, better sleep and overall well-being can be found again!