For most adults, it’s recommended that you get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, in order to stay healthy. However, around 60 million Americans are unable to get that amount, no matter how hard they try, due to insomnia. The affliction can be detrimental to both your physical and mental health. Fortunately, there’s a new way to treat it—and surprisingly, it can be done online.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
There’s a difference between a few sleepless nights and real insomnia. The disorder is defined by at least three nights per week, for three months or more, during which your sleep is irregular, interrupted, or simply inadequate. It can have a number of root causes, such as anxiety or depression, but the effect is the same—you’re not getting enough sleep.
One of the most effective treatments for insomnia is called cognitive behavioral therapy. It trains a person to be aware of their feelings and the thoughts that are causing them. In this way, a patient can learn to control their negativity and stop the vicious circle of bad thoughts causing bad emotions. It’s used to treat depression, anxiety, and other causes of insomnia, as well as drug and alcohol addiction, and more.
Insomnia Therapy Goes Online
Cognitive behavioral therapy is usually performed in person, by a professional. Today, however, insomniacs can go through the process at home on their own, with new online sleep therapies. Two different programs, called SHUTi and Sleepio, have been tested in studies and found to have positive effects on the sleep patterns of people suffering from insomnia.
Over time, the programs seek to break users out of the negative thought and behavior patterns that lead to a lack of sleep. For instance, often frustrated insomniacs worry that unless they get enough rest at night, they won’t be able to function properly the next day. This fear then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, causing them to sleep poorly and have difficulty getting through tomorrow. These online programs help to eliminate that line of thinking, allowing users to sleep better and break the cycle.
Another common belief insomniacs have is that they need some sort of medication in order to get a good night’s sleep. Then if they don’t have any, they’ll be up all night, because they believe they can’t function without it. If they do have medication, they can develop a dependence on it and build up a tolerance, which leads to further problems getting enough rest—in addition to other potential issues. These online cognitive behavioral therapy programs can help to break those patterns, so users can get to sleep without chemical dependence.
There are behavioral patterns to break as well. When you go to bed and can’t sleep, what do you do instead? Do you browse Facebook on your phone? Do you eat, or watch TV? By occupying yourself with these activities, you’re keeping yourself stimulated and ensuring that it takes even longer for you to drift off. SHUTi and Sleepio can recommend alternate behaviors, such as reading, that limit stimulation and help bring sleep on faster.
If you see a therapist to help you with your insomnia, they’ll likely do a number of these same things for you. They’ll recommend behavioral changes, but they’ll do it while you’re in their office in the daytime. It’s up to you to carry them out at night, seeing what works and what doesn’t. On the other hand, with online cognitive behavioral therapy, the recommendations can be enacted in real time. The program tells you to do something, and you do it. If that doesn’t work, it can recommend something else right away.
Cognitive behavioral therapy isn’t the only method of treating insomnia. Some people really do need sleeping pills and other treatments to help them get enough rest. For those who can benefit from it, though, SHUTi and Sleepio are convenient, effective, and comparatively inexpensive methods to help you deal with your insomnia and get the sleep you need.