The AASM put out new guidelines in early 2021 strongly recommending cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). When you do CBT-I, you meet with a therapist to learn how to change thoughts and behaviors that may be keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep. It involves several techniques that you may try one at a time or in combination.
- Cognitive restructuring. The therapist will help you identify and change unhelpful thoughts and feelings that may be affecting your sleep, like anxiety about insomnia or unrealistic expectations.
- Stimulus control. This means setting up a sleep environment with no distractions, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, and leaving the bedroom, rather than tossing and turning, when you can’t get to sleep.
- Sleep restriction. You’ll record the amount of time you spend sleeping with a sleep diary, then start staying in bed for only that amount of time plus 30 minutes. You’ll probably get less sleep at first. But the idea is to make yourself tired enough to get solid sleep, then gradually increase your time in bed.
- Relaxation training. Your therapist can teach you relaxation techniques like breathing exercises and meditation that may help calm your mind.
- Sleep hygiene. This includes a range of habits that promote good sleep, like getting exercise, cutting out late-night eating, alcohol and caffeine, and keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.