A Single Therapy Session Could Help You Get To Sleep

Illustrated by Ammiel Mendoza.
Sleep is such a precious treasure in this fast-paced world of ours, and there could be dire consequences if you're having trouble getting enough of it. But, new research suggests that a single session with a therapist could help insomniacs get back their ZZZs.

In a small study, published this month in the journal Sleep, 20 adults diagnosed with acute insomnia (meaning it lasts for no more than three months, so it isn't chronic) underwent a cognitive behavioral therapy session (CBT) for about an hour. Another 20 insomniacs were put on the waitlist for therapy to serve as the control group (everyone was offered it eventually). Also, all participants kept sleep diaries and had to complete a questionnaire assessing the severity of their insomnia before treatment and a month after.

Usually, CBT involves exploring how your thoughts and feelings actually influence the things you do. So, a therapist might work with you in a solution-focused way to explore any patterns of destructive behavior. As one part of the therapy in this study, participants were prescribed individual bedtimes based on their sleep diaries and their specific needs.

Results showed that participants who had gone through the therapy session had significantly less severe insomnia a month later compared to the control group. And, after that month, 60% of those who'd had CBT were sleeping better (compared to 15% of control participants). After three months, that figure went up to 73%.

Still, the study was pretty darn small and no one in it had ever undergone this therapy before. So, it's too early to say how many insomniacs out there could truly be "cured" by CBT or if there's any value for people switching from another type of therapy. Nonetheless, finding a way to treat acute insomnia is especially important, because it can eventually become chronic under the right circumstances. Luckily, there's already a fair amount of evidence to suggest that CBT can also help with longer-lasting insomnia.

However, if you're already on the therapy train and you're still having trouble sleeping, there could be something else going on — a discussion with your therapist and/or doctor could help pin it down. Getting those ZZZs is clearly important, so it's worth fighting for 'em.
Advertisement

More from Mind

An after-work drink has long been the cure for a bad day, this you know. But new research points to exactly why that glass of rosé works so well — and so...
As a Kansas City native, there are few things I love more than our local theme park, Worlds of Fun. Seriously, it's my absolute favorite. I get season ...
Your birth control is supposed to bring you peace of mind, but could it be affecting your mental health in a negative way? A large new study suggests a ...
(Paid Content) Taking short breaks during the workday can bring your sanity back to earth. Of course, they have a calming effect, but did you know breaks ...
As told to Amelia Harnish I never imagined I’d be a person who left college the same day I arrived. For me, venturing off to school had high stakes. ...
No one goes through life trying to be a horrible person. But sometimes, it's a challenge to go that extra mile (or even just a few steps) out of your way...
Living with anxiety can feel like a constant battle. You have to stay alert to catch anxiety creeping up on you, and it can turn into an all-day fight to ...
(Paid Content) Moods are fickle things. You can be going about your day in a happy, productive, and calm manner, and boom — everything changes. And ...
We explore the unconscious messages a voice can give off and why snap judgments can be harmful, even if they're innocent
It's not always easy to predict how much you're going to drink when you go out — or how drunk you'll actually get. And according to a new study, your ...
This story was originally published on May 19, 2016. A few years ago, I called my dad for one of our weekly chats — but he wasn’t happy to hear from me...
As much as it sucks, anxiety doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Without a little bit of it, you wouldn’t make sure to show up on time to that job interview or...
This story was originally published on May 19, 2016. I am six years old, in the first grade girls’ bathroom with my friend. We are washing our hands. ...
This story was originally published on Jul. 19, 2016. Several months ago, a woman I’m very close to checked herself into a hospital because she’d been ...