8 September 2017

Take 5: Management of insomnia

Clinical Mental Health Sleep

Why is cognitive behavioural therapy important for the treatment of insomnia?

Chronic insomnia isn’t just related to stress levels, it’s driven by thought patterns and behaviours, says sleep physician Dr David Cunnington.

By way of example, Dr Cunnington described one patient, who started sleeping poorly in the setting of losing her husband 20 years ago.

“But 20 years down the track, she’s well past that,” he says. “But at the time … she had acute insomnia that really didn’t settle. Now … she’s got a fear of going to sleep.

“She might feel sleepy watching the television, gets into bed and gets that adrenaline running. Her heart rate goes up and sleep feels allusive and a long way away.”

CBT targets those behaviours and anxieties that might be disrupting sleep, says Dr Cunnington.