Getting a good night’s sleep is not always as easy as it should be. In fact, insomnia is the most common sleep disorder in the developed world, with about 1 out of 10 adults in the US suffering chronically from this disorder.
There really are two approaches to treating insomnia. The first approach is medications, and many consumers see the late-night television advertisements as their only hope. This approach considers insomnia the result of a chemical “imbalance” in the brain that can be addressed with medications. The medications typically impact areas of the brain that increase how sleepy one feels or decrease how alert one feels. For some people, medications are the ticket to a much-needed good night of sleep.
But there is another way. For most people, taking a sleeping pill for the rest of their life is not the “treatment” they are hoping for, and when a person stops taking a sleeping pill, insomnia often returns. There is good news. Fortunately, there are treatments that can have the same benefit as a sleeping pill – and these benefits are likely to last well beyond the end of the treatment.
The central component of these treatments is called “cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia.” This treatment involves a careful evaluation of the sleep concerns, working through the insomnia sufferer’s thoughts and attitudes about sleep, and making targeted changes to sleep-related “habits” while evaluating the impact those changes have on sleep itself.
In my practice, this process typically begins with a 1-2 session comprehensive evaluation of your sleep complaint. If insomnia is the key concern, the treatment typically involves 4-5 additional sessions, which can be completed over a 2-3 month period.
In some cases, the evaluation itself may reveal other symptoms that require treatment by another specialist. If that is the case, a referral to another local provider may be required to address those concerns.