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Insomnia Treatment: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Insomnia (CBT-I)

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder, but therapy can help you get the sleep you need. Explore Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Insomnia (CBT-I), a non-drug option for treating insomnia.


Insomnia is a sleep disorder where the patient can have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or may find themselves waking up prematurely and having trouble falling back to sleep.


Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, also known as CBT-I, is an effective treatment for chronic sleep problems and is generally recommended as a first-line treatment.


CBT-I is an insomnia treatment method involving the identification and replacement of habits that cause or worsen sleep problems with methods that promote restful sleep. Unlike drug treatments such as sleeping pills, cognitive behavioural therapy can help you solve the underlying causes of your sleep problems.


Treatment often lasts 6-8 sessions, but the length can vary depending on the individual’s needs. To determine the best way to treat your insomnia, our sleep specialist may ask you to keep a sleep diary for a couple of weeks.

How cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia works

The first step in CBT-I is to teach you to identify and correct the thought patterns that affect your ability to sleep. This approach can help you control or eliminate the negative thoughts and concerns that keep you awake.


The second step, behavior therapy, helps you develop good sleep habits and limit the behaviors that keep you from sleeping well.


This treatment is effective, but it can take time to learn and practice the skills outlined in your treatment. Some techniques, such as stimulus control and sleep restriction, often allow for gradual adjustment of sleep patterns. Depending on your needs, your sleep specialist may recommend some of these CBT-I techniques:

Sleep hygiene

CBT can be used to help change some of your habits that affect sleep, such as smoking or drinking too much caffeine at the end of the day, drinking too much alcohol or not getting regular physical activity. It also includes activities for better sleep, such as relaxation techniques, reading a book or listening to soft music an hour or two before bedtime.

Optimizing your bedroom environment

This provides solutions for creating a comfortable sleep environment, such as keeping your bedroom quiet, dark and cool, avoiding TVs or other activities keeping you awake at night.

Stimulus control

Stimulus control consists of removing elements that encourage your mind to stay awake. For example, it may teach you to set fixed sleep and wake-up times and to avoid naps, to use the bed only for sleeping, or limit late night screen time.

Reducing sleep time 

Staying in bed while you are awake can become a habit that leads to poor sleep quality. With CBT techniques you should decrease the amount of time you spend in bed, as it can cause partial sleep deprivation, making you more tired the next night. After your sleep has improved, the time spent in bed is gradually increased.

Relaxation technique 

This technique helps you to reach a state of calm. Several approaches are possible: meditation, visualization, muscle relaxation, etc.


Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can be an excellent choice of treatment if you have long-term sleep problems, if you are concerned about becoming dependent on sleeping pills, or if your prescribed sleep medications are ineffective or have side effects.


Unlike medication, CBT-I addresses the root causes of insomnia rather than just relieving the symptoms. It may take longer to see results, but the effort will be effective and last.

Insomnia and other health disorders

Insomnia is linked to other physical and mental conditions. If you repeatedly miss sleep, you are more likely to suffer from health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and chronic pain.

Insomnia: Who can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can be appropriate for anyone with sleep problems. CBT can be especially helpful for people with insomnia and mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. 


CBT-I is considered effective for many types of insomnia, and even has potential benefits for people with short-term insomnia. CBT-I may therefore be useful in treating the symptoms of insomnia.


Insomnia can be assessed through both in-home and in-clinic sleep studies. Depending on the diagnosis, Dorma Lab may recommend that you use HALEO Clinic as part of your insomnia treatment. It offers professional care to treat your insomnia with personalized advice related to your sleep patterns.