Happy young asian woman sitting on bed after waking up in the morning in beautiful, cozy bedroom at home after CBT-I treatment

CBT-I: Can it Cure Insomnia?

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) was Dr. Richard Blackburn, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist, diplomate of the Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, and Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine. 

If you’ve ever had a bad night’s sleep, you know just how lack of sleep can affect your mood, productivity, and overall well-being. After several nights of poor or interrupted sleep, you might start wondering if you have insomnia. Or maybe a doctor has diagnosed you with insomnia and prescribed you sleeping pills, but you keep needing higher and higher doses to sleep through the night.  

If this sounds like you, you’re probably wondering how to cure insomnia. In this post, we’ll discuss CBT-I, the most effective treatments for insomnia, and how it can help you sleep better.

But first, let’s define insomnia. According to Dr. Richard Blackburn, sleep psychologist and outpatient therapist, insomnia is: 

“A sleep disorder where a person has difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or wakes up too early in the morning (e.g. 3:00am) and can’t get back to sleep. Sometimes, a person suffers all three of these problems at the same time.” 

Now that we know what insomnia is, let’s get into whether it can be cured. 

Related: Can Therapy Help with Insomnia? 

CBT-I: a Cure for Insomnia? 

While there is no definitive cure for insomnia, there are several mainstream treatments that doctors and professionals use to treat this sleep problem. One of the most common is medications. However, Dr. Blackburn feels that medications are not a helpful long-term solution. 

Medications work well initially, but over time, tolerance develops, and the person sleeps poorly once again.  Some sleep medications are addictive, and several have significant long-term health consequences.  Most medications are only recommended for short-term use, typically less than 2 months. 

So, if medications aren’t the answer, what could possibly help? Dr. Blackburn believes that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a person’s best shot at curing insomnia. He’s not the only one, either. In 2016, the American College of Physicians reviewed all the treatments for insomnia and recommended CBT-I as the first-line treatment for people ages 16 and older. The American College of Sleep Medicine recommended the same. Dr. Blackburn says: 

It’s as effective as medications, produces results that last longer, is safer, and can often resolve the cause of insomnia instead of treating it as a symptom. 

And, while it takes about 3 months for a patient to start sleeping through the night, he says the patients’ results speak for themselves.  

Related: How to Sleep Better Without Medication 

Dr. Blackburn’s Patient

One of his favorites of those stories is about a patient who came to him getting only an average of four hours of sleep a night. He had experienced a difficult life and suffered several traumatic brain injuries.   

On top of only getting four hours a night, he was struggling with depression, anxiety, headaches, and poor concentration. It seemed like nothing he did was helping. He was ready to put in the work to get better.  

And after only a few months of CBT-I, he started sleeping better. By the end of their time together, he was sleeping eight hours a night. His mood improved, he was able to work, and he got his life back.  

“Like most of my patients, the first few weeks of treatment were demanding and difficult for him,” Dr. Blackburn said, “but he reported that the results were worth the effort.” 

Related: Food & Mood: How Are They Linked? 

CBT-I at Nystrom

Nystrom offers many providers trained in CBT-I and other behavioral therapy techniques who can help you get freedom from insomnia. Dr. Blackburn believes the patients and their stories are the proof. 

“I’ve been treating insomnia for more than 13 years, and in that time, only a few patients didn’t get significantly better sleep. Most people notice significant improvements in sleep in the first 3-4 weeks of treatment." 

If you’re interested in scheduling or learning more, contact us at 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online. We’ll help you find a therapist like Dr. Blackburn who can help you overcome your insomnia. 

Related: So, You’re Starting Therapy: Here’s What to Know 

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