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  • Writer's pictureAlexander James

What Is CBTi And How Does It Treat Insomnia?

Whether it's taking a hot bath before bed, or listening to a bedtime story or podcast, and whether old wives’ tales or internet ‘hacks’, there are abundant tricks that are suggested to help ease insomnia, but these remedies fail to address the root cause of disturbed sleep.

BBC Three recently aired ‘Daisy Maskell: Insomnia and Me’, where the Kiss FM DJ investigated her own sleep issues, and revealed an epidemic of insomnia and sleep disorders in young people, and showed how much it can cause mental health issues and more. But there are ways to find the root cause of the grinding torture that is insomnia.

This is where CBTi, or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia, comes in. It is a highly effective, evidence-based approach that works by helping those struggling with insomnia to identify the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that contribute to their sleep disorders, and how to make changes to address them.

How does CBTi work to treat insomnia?

There are three key aspects of CBTi:

• Re-education, which helps to address any unhelpful beliefs or ideas about sleep, and replaces them with scientific and factual information.

• Behavioural changes, which help to boost your sleep rive and physically make it easier to sleep.

• Cognitive changes, such as relaxation techniques, will make sleep easier and help stop you from slipping back into anxiety-driven habits the next time you can’t find sleep.


Overall, we are not very educated in sleep, and when we are unable to sleep, our beliefs and understanding about what we need to do to fix our sleep are often based on things that are not factual or scientific.

In CBTi, the first thing to do is to undo all those beliefs by re-education, and teaching the facts, trying to relate the unhelpful beliefs with ones that will lead to the right behaviours to being better sleep.

Behavioural changes

Once the belief system has been addressed, the next is to look at the science of sleep. The science of sleep says that depriving yourself of bedtime - your ‘sleep opportunity’ - can improve the quality of your sleep.

This means that while people think that they should spend more time in bed when struggling with sleep, for example, lying in bed, going to bed early, or avoiding doing things, it can lead to a problem with sleeping, as it blurs the body’s understanding of the difference between sleep and awareness.

By restricting or rescheduling sleep over several weeks, it can incrementally add more time to your sleep opportunity, and restore your sleep drive.

Cognitive changes

Finally, it is time to work on cognitive changes, such as helping people to understand how to reduce anxiety, relax, and be able to process their day better.

This is a proactive approach that helps to avoid sleep problems in the future. The psychological side of this looks at your winding down process and gives you techniques to help reduce anxiety and how to find calm.

That way, if you do have a bad night, which is completely normal, you are equipped with an arsenal of coping mechanisms.

If you’re struggling with sleep and looking for a mindful therapist based in London, talk to us today.

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