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Cognitive behavioral therapies as a first-line treatment for insomnia

When most people suffer from serious sleep problems, they automatically turn to a sleep aid, be it a prescription medication or a natural supplement.

But these solutions, according to psychologist and sleep specialist Robert van Klaveren, are anything but the best.

In fact, the most preferred solution that is also supported by numerous researchers is a treatment that many people, even medical professionals, are not aware of.

Studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is very effective for insomnia.

Below, Robert van Flaveren, author of The Workbook for Insomnia: A Comprehensive Guide to Getting the Sleep You Need, provides an insight into insomnia and its treatment. He talks about various strategies readers can try at home to get rid of this nasty ailment.


What does normal sleep mean?

Before thinking about disturbed sleep, it is important to understand what normal sleep actually is. Normal sleep means that you fall asleep relatively easily once you are in bed, says psychologist van Klaveren. "Most people usually fall asleep within 15 minutes."

Once you have gone to sleep, you will usually go through the following 4 stages several times:

Stage N1: The lightest stage, usually accounting for 10 percent of your total sleep time.

Stage N2: Unlike stage N1, at this stage you lose perception of external stimuli, and people spend most of their sleep time at this stage.

Stage N3: Also known as wave sleep, it is considered the most restorative stage.

Stage R: Known as REM sleep. It is the most active stage for your brain and body functions such as breathing and heart rate. However, your muscles relax so you can dream without physical movements.

It is also normal for it to take about 20 to 30 minutes to really be awake in the morning.


What Is Insomnia?

"Most people with insomnia have trouble falling asleep at the onset of sleep, or staying asleep." Writes van Klaveren in his book, which provides readers with information about insomnia and strategies for treating it.

"People with insomnia may also feel moody or fatigued during the day." The most common type of insomnia is conditioned or learned insomnia. "Before going to sleep, one already suffers from severe tension." writes van Klaveren. “This makes falling asleep even more difficult because you keep worrying about your insomnia, which leads to increased arousal. This then becomes a conditioned physiological response that contributes to the difficulty in falling asleep ”.


Myths About Insomnia

There are also many myths that can undermine your sleep and insomnia treatment. One of the biggest is the idea that sleeping pills are an effective remedy for improving your sleep. In fact, research has found that cognitive behavioral therapy is much more efficient than drugs.

Often sleeping pills also make you sleepy throughout the day as well as change the overall sleep architecture.

Light benzodiazepines, a class of sedative-hypnotic drugs, such as zolpidem, “affect other areas of sleep,” such as breathing, ”writes van Klaveren. "They have potentially serious side effects and can also lead to psychological and physiological dependence."

People also mistakenly believe that “there is no reason to sleep. Just like they believe they have little control over their sleep. ” This could be another reason people turn to sleeping pills. However, there are reality-oriented and well-tested techniques you can use to get a good night's sleep.

Another misconception is that spending more time in bed will increase your chances of sleeping longer. On the contrary, this can actually sabotage your sleep and cause a negative association with your bed. As van Klaveren says, "The more time a person spends in bed, the more he or she feels that the bed is not a place to promote sleep."

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