Insomnia and other disorders

Insomnia is linked to a number of physical and mental health disorders. Ongoing lack of sleep increases your risk of health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and chronic pain. Some medications, including over-the-counter medications, also can contribute to insomnia.

If you have a condition or medication that's linked to insomnia, talk to your doctor about how best to manage these along with sleep problems. Insomnia is unlikely to get better without treatment.

Finding help

There are a limited number of certified Behavioral Sleep Medicine specialists, and you may not live near a practitioner. You may have to do some searching to find a trained practitioner and a treatment schedule and type that fit your needs. Here are some places to look:

  • The American Academy of Sleep Medicine website allows you to search for a certified sleep center, such as Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine.
  • The Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine website offers a directory for finding a behavioral sleep medicine provider.

The type of treatment and frequency of sessions can vary. You may need as few as two sessions or as many as eight or more sessions, depending on your sleep expert, the program and your progress.

When calling to set up an appointment, ask the practitioner about his or her approach and what to expect. Also check ahead of time whether your health insurance will cover the type of treatment you need.

If available in your area, meet with a sleep medicine specialist in person for your sessions. However, phone consultation, CDs, books or websites on CBT techniques and insomnia also may be beneficial.

Who can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia?

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia can benefit nearly anyone with sleep problems. CBT-I can help people who have primary insomnia as well as people with physical problems, such as chronic pain, or mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. What's more, the effects seem to last. And there is no evidence that CBT-I has negative side effects.

CBT-I requires steady practice, and some approaches may cause you to lose sleep at first. But stick with it, and you'll likely see lasting results.

Sept. 28, 2016 See more In-depth