Mental Health
How Therapy Can Help Support Restful Sleep

How Therapy Can Help Support Restful Sleep

3 min read


Laurie Larson

After a busy day at work, sometimes a good nights sleep is the best type of medicine.  However, even given our best foot forward, achieving restful sleep is easier said that done.  If you are experiencing restless nights, or unable to fall asleep easily, there are surprising ways therapy may help benefit you.

Today, we are grateful to hear from Laurie Larson on her perspectives about the ways therapy and sleep go hand in hand.

Sleep aids vs. therapy: which one can help?

Experiencing sleep problems regularly can greatly interfere with your quality of life in many ways.  Even if you are able to fall asleep for a couple of hours, you might wake up groggy and find that expending the little energy you have to make it through the day can seem impossible.  You may have even resorted to over-the-counter sleep aids during your struggle for quality sleep, only to find that they ultimately you feel a bit worse.  That’s because sleep aids may not contain all of the helpful ingredients that foster good restful sleep.

Fortunately, there is another option that can help you overcome difficulty sleeping without synthetic chemicals.  Along with proper sleep hygiene, including a nighttime wind-down routine, a healthy diet, and exercise, therapy is growing as an effective treatment for insomnia and other sleep disorders.

What are the causes of sleep deprivation?

There are several possible causes of sleep deprivation, and there are those that suffer from more than one simultaneously. Shift work, for example, often leads to employees who suffer from lack of sleep due to working the night shift or other demanding schedules.  Additionally, compounding issue such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder may also be at play.

The truth is: sometimes the underlying causes of the inability to sleep well are not completely straightforward. In addition to the mental health issues discussed above, underlying illness can contribute to sleep deprivation.  Any chronic health issue that causes pain or other discomfort, such as lupus and respiratory illnesses, make it hard to get quality sleep.

How can therapy help you sleep?

Therapy is effective to help improve quality sleep because the therapy centers around the underlying causes of your sleep deprivation, including mental health disorders and coping with chronic pain.  In addition, it involves addressing what lifestyle changes you can make to promote better overall health, including relaxation skills, exercise, and changing your way of thinking.

Sleep deprivation can both trigger and be caused by emotional health problems and therapy trains you to be aware of patterns of thinking and how to engage in self-care on a regular basis.  This means that therapy is getting to the root of the problem rather than just treating symptoms, making it possible to develop and maintain lifelong healthy sleep patterns.

Recent research conducted by scientists at Harvard Medical School revealed that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was significantly more effective at treating sleep disorders than prescription sleep aids.  In addition, the benefits of CBT were apparent for a year after treatment was discontinued.

CBT for sleep disorders

CBT consists of two main components:

  • Cognitive therapy trains you to recognize and alter negative belief and thought processes contributing to sleep problems.
  • Behavioral therapy trains you to become aware of behaviors that keep you up at night and develop more healthy sleep habits to replace them.

CBT may be provided individually, in a group with others who have similar sleep difficulties, or online.  Because both the symptoms and causes of sleep disorders vary significantly, CBT will need to be tailored to your specific sleep problems in order to be as effective as possible.  The length of your therapy will also vary depending on the type of sleep disorder in question as well as its severity.  Although CBT is not often an immediate cure, many CBT programs report substantial improvement in sleep patterns after only five to eight weekly sessions.

If you’re struggling with either falling asleep or staying asleep, it might be time to ditch the sleeping aids and opt for a more hands on approach.  Therapy offers hope for many who struggle with sleep problems by tracing more superficial causes and symptoms to the true source of disrupted sleep.

Keep in touch!

Huge thank you to Laurie Larson for her perspective today. We hope you have learned more about the benefits of therapy on sleeping patterns.

What topics do you want to hear about most? We’d love to source experts to share more perspective with you. Let us know at [email protected].

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About the author

Laurie Larson is a writer based on the east coast who enjoys writing about home, health, and lifestyle topics to help others make the most out of their lives. In her free time, Laurie enjoys spending as much time outdoors as possible. To get in contact with Laurie and learn more about her work, please email at [email protected]

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