Which doctor has the best treatment for insomnia?
There are many different ways to treat insomnia, but there is one way that many doctors will recommend that you try: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
In this type of treatment, patients are guided through a set of behaviors that help them to get out of bed and move around in a normal, everyday way.
While this may seem like an easy, relaxing method, it can also be extremely difficult.
And it’s hard to get started with.
The best way to begin is with a simple question to ask yourself, says Dr. Brian Schoenfeld, PhD, a behavioral neuroscientist at Stanford University.
“What is your biggest source of tension or anxiety?”
The answer, says Schoenfield, is your sleep patterns.
The first step to understanding your sleep pattern is to figure out what is causing your symptoms, says Daniel Bierman, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a clinical professor at Yale University.
For example, if you’re having a night of excessive daytime sleepiness, it’s likely your sleep is too shallow.
The problem with a deep sleep is that you are not getting the restful sleep you need, Biermann says.
To learn more about this, read our tips on managing insomnia.
“If you can identify a pattern in your sleep that is consistent with your symptoms and it is an easy process to change your sleep,” says Schock.
“And then if you can figure out the cause, you can change the behavior.”
That’s when the real fun begins.
“The biggest challenge with treating insomnia is that it’s not easy to identify the root cause,” says Biermans.
So the first step is to ask for a sleep study.
“We have lots of data to show that you have a better quality of sleep with cognitive behavioral therapy than you do with other treatments,” says Drs.
Bier and Schoenfeld.
“There’s a lot of research that shows that if you have cognitive behavioral therapies you have better sleep, longer sleep, and better quality sleep,” Bier says.
The difference is that cognitive behavioral treatments tend to be more specific and focused, whereas other treatments are more general.
“They focus on what you’re doing, rather than what your brain thinks is happening,” says Caren Gershman, PhD., director of the Mood Disorders Clinic at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Cognitive behavioral treatments also can have a lot to do with the amount of sleep you get.
The longer you get into bed, the more you need to get to sleep, says Gersherman.
If you have problems getting to sleep in the morning, you may need more medication.
Another problem is that many of the cognitive behavioral interventions that are being used today are based on a concept called “compensatory regulation,” which basically means that the treatment involves encouraging your brain to use its resources for positive reinforcement.
But, when you take that same cue and reinforce it in a way that it has never been used before, it creates a vicious cycle, says Biers.
In addition, because it is such a common problem in older adults, many cognitive behavioral therapists believe that it is a treatment that may be beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
But the truth is that there’s little evidence that cognitive behavioural therapy actually helps people with these conditions, says Mark Belsky, MD and a psychologist at Boston University School of Medicine.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is Still the Only Way To Get Better Sleep: How Much Do We Know?
Cognitive behavioral therapies are not new.
In fact, the idea of a treatment for sleep problems dates back to the mid-20th century.
A group of doctors named Daniel Belski, MD (who was also a psychiatrist) and William F. Belskus, MD in the late 1960s published a study in which they gave patients with insomnia to learn how to meditate.
Batski and his colleagues found that when they taught people how to focus on their breathing, they saw improvements in their sleep.
So Belsks study was very much in the tradition of treating sleep problems.
What was different, though, was that they found that the people who were given the practice of mindfulness meditation saw their sleep improve, not worse.
They also saw improvements that went beyond just breathing, says Andrew Zimbardo, MD at the NYU School of Nursing.
“It was the way the mind was thinking and acting that was improving,” Zimbardos research indicates.
“Mindfulness meditation works through the brain, so it was actually the way your mind was behaving that was the reason it was improving.”
This was just one study, but Zimbards research and Belskin’s results had a huge impact on the way doctors approached insomnia.
Balsky and Bessky also had a group of researchers conduct a study of 12 patients with chronic insomnia and found that cognitive therapy improved their sleep in both groups.
The next step was to look at the effects of the treatment on the patient’s quality