Choosing a CBT for Insomnia Specialist

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Insomnia - National Sleep Foundation

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Jack D. Edinger, PhD

How do I know if cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is right for me?

There is not one specific indicator. If you’ve had insomnia for a long period of time, if you have tried sleep medications and haven’t had significant relief, or if there’s no obvious medical or psychiatric cause you’re aware of, then it’s likely you’ll want to address your concerns about the sleep disturbance as well as habits you’ve developed over time that will perpetuate insomnia. A lot of the things people do often perpetuate insomnia. Some people take daytime naps after a bad night’s sleep, sleep in on weekends or stay in bed for extended periods of time. These things actually contribute to insomnia and they’re the habits we try to end with CBT.

If I choose to try CBT-I treatment, how do I locate a clinician where I live? How will I know if he or she is reputable in the field?

Probably one of the better ways to find a CBT-I specialist would be to seek out an accredited sleep center in your area. A lot of sleep centers will have a qualified provider who can implement CBT-I, although this is not guaranteed. Also, the Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicine offers a certification in Behavioral Sleep Medicine . People who pass this exam have the skills to implement CBT-I treatment and the knowledge about how CBT-I works.

How do CBT-I clinicians differ from other doctors in the sleep field?

They’re experts in behavioral insomnia treatments as opposed to pharmacological treatments. They know a lot about learning theory and how learning affects the development of bad sleep. They use tools to correct the sleep-disruptive habits themselves. They’re also skilled at the cognitive therapies used to intervene in attitudes that patients have about sleep.

What are my options if I cannot find a CBT-I clinician in my area?

There are some behavioral treatment principles available online, and there are also self help books by reputable insomnia experts. Those tools generally provide all of