Cognitive behavioral therapy
(CBT) just got another star for treating insomnia, especially for people who
suffer from chronic neck or back pain.

The study, published
by the journal Sleep Medicine, indicates that CBT can help patients
who already are taking medications for pain and might be reluctant or unable to
take additional drugs to treat their sleep problems.

I’ve long believed in the
power of CBT. Exactly what is it? The gist:

  • As its name
    implies, CBT is one part cognitive
    and one part behavioral.
  • The cognitive
    portion of CBT is about recognizing, challenging, and changing the ways of thinking that keep you from
    falling asleep.
  • If you can’t get
    to sleep easily at night and find yourself tossing and turning while awash in
    irritating thoughts, chances are you’re fueling your own fire with a distorted,
    stress-inducing behavior. CBT Solution: challenge these thoughts, with
    the help of a sleep psychologist, as they may be distorted or inaccurate.
  • The behavior
    portion is about sleep
    —the ways in which you prepare yourself for sleep. My Solution:
    Follow a Power
    Down Hour
    and go to bed at the perfect time for your body so you’re
    ready to fall asleep within 20 to 30 minutes.

Studies have shown that cognitive
behavior therapy
can, in fact, beat sleeping pills. This proves just how
powerful thoughts can be, and that getting restful sleep is often more about
how you teach your mind to think than using any external trick such as a drug
or other sleep aid.

The participants in this
latest study, whose pain and moods were tracked for six months alongside sleep,
received CBT and showed measurable, positive results. The researchers believe
that CBT can be even more effective than other treatments for insomnia and
chronic pain.

Sweet Dreams,

Michael J. Breus, PhD
The Sleep Doctor™

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