By August 11, 2012

Application of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Learned Insomnia

Humans all over the world have the same anatomy, and general physical make-up, but what is that particular quality that sets each person apart from the other? Well, the behavior, character and the mental make-up are the only decisive factors that can define a person. CBT or Cognitive behavioral therapy is a branch of medical science, which involves specific techniques aimed at helping people to correct and modulate their behavioral responses towards different situations.

Behavior and emotions play an important role in deciding many important aspects in a person’s life, and one of them is sleep. Sleep comes naturally to the majority of the population, but there are quite a lot of people who have serious issues with falling asleep or getting a good quality of sleep. Insomnia is becoming increasingly common, with almost 1 in every 8 American, being affected by this sleep disorder.

Chronic loss of sleep or prolonged periods of inadequate sleep are absolutely deleterious to health. The human body is programmed to rejuvenate, repair and restore itself during sleep. Sleep is intricately connected to various vital physiological hormones and chemicals in the body and any disruption or disturbance in the normal sleep cycle can have an exceptionally profound effect on the entire system.

People who suffer from Insomnia have been found to have few or all of the following symptoms as listed below:

  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Inattentiveness
  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability
  • Decreased work efficiency
  • Lack of libido
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Obesity or weight issues
  • Digestive disorders
  • Irregular bowel movements or constipation
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Depression

The causes of Insomnia can differ from one individual to another, but the underlying common thread amongst all the cases, seems to be the lack of proper sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is nothing but healthy habits that promote natural and normal sleep. Having a fixed daily time table for sleep, avoiding stimulants before bedtime, sleeping in a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere etc are all attributes of good sleep hygiene.

Learned insomnia is a type of sleep disorder, where the behavioral response of the person is programmed to create sleep disturbance. This type of insomnia is directly related to stress and anxiety, and the inability to sleep may have developed as a behavioral response to the prolonged stress and negative conditioning. The patients who suffer from this kind of insomnia usually have a typical pattern of thinking. They tend to worry and fret regarding the lack of sleep, and may have certain fixed notions regarding the relation of sleep to the functioning of the body.

Cognitive behavioral therapy involves the use of psychotherapy techniques to help the people suffering from Learned Insomnia to modify their behavioral response towards the stress and correct the negative conditioning of thoughts. The patient makes use of the cognitive behavioral therapy and learns not to worry and fear about the sleeplessness. It helps the patients to understand that their body might not need as much sleep as they perceive to be. The patient begins to understand that he or she may be misinterpreting the phase of light sleep as a period of waking. Cognitive behavioral therapy encourages the positive programming of the mind. CBT techniques may also involve the enforcement of good sleep hygiene.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be extremely useful to patients suffering from Insomnia. It acts directly on the cause of the insomnia and does not attempt to temporarily control the sleeplessness like the sedative medications. Moreover it can either be used singly or in combination with medications. Such combination therapy is commonly utilized in patients who are in dire need of a rapid relief or in obstinate cases, where the primary cycle of sleeplessness needs to be broken.

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