When you can't sleep, your thoughts can be your worst enemy. In this episode, we explain five key strategies to help break the spiral, based on what many believe is the most effective treatment out there: cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I.
Here's what to remember:
- Log your sleep time to get a reality check on how much you're actually sleeping. Include the approximate time you fell asleep, whether and when you woke in the night and when you woke up for the day,
- Write down your anxious thoughts; then replace them with more rational thoughts.
- Restrict the amount of time you spend in bed based on information from your sleep log. It sounds paradoxical, but cutting back on time spent in bed means spending more of your time in bed actually sleeping.
- Find a relaxation technique. Lots of smartphone apps can help, like Headspace, Calm, 10% Happier, Insight Timer.
- Make it a rule: The bedroom is only for sleep (and sex); no electronic devices, no lying in bed, ruminating.
For this episode, we spoke to Stephen Amira, a psychologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who sees many patients who struggle with insomnia, and Christina McCrae, a clinical psychologist and CBT-I expert at the University of Missouri.