Can insomnia be cured?
When falling asleep at night becomes difficult, it’s easy to feel helpless and alone. In reality, insomnia affects between 10 and 33% of the population and can last anywhere from a few days to weeks, months, or longer.
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that impedes a person’s ability to fall or stay asleep, leading to low energy levels, mood changes, and an overall decreased quality of life. Common symptoms of insomnia include:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Waking up too early
- Feeling tired even after several hours of sleep
- Difficulty to concentrate on, remember, or perform certain tasks
- Irritability and anxiety
People often confuse insomnia with not getting enough sleep, but you can actually have insomnia even if you get 7 hours of sleep per night. As long as you struggle with falling and staying asleep, and/or not feeling rested during the day, you can still be experiencing insomnia.
Most cases of insomnia are acute, which means each episode may only last for up to a few weeks – usually when the patient goes through a stressful period of time. About 10% of reported cases, however, may worsen, leading to longer periods of insomnia. If you have been experiencing at least three days of insomnia symptoms every week for the past month, your condition is likely considered chronic.
This leads us to an important question: Can insomnia be cured?
Insomnia can be addressed using a variety of treatment methods, depending on its severity. Even chronic insomnia can be cured entirely by addressing the underlying cause of the issue in many cases. So, what are the options for curing insomnia?
Short term solutions for insomnia treatment
Short term or “acute insomnia” can be treated by making a few lifestyle changes to promote better rest. These minor adjustments are often the first steps of treatment programs and can provide short-term relief:
- Avoid sleep blockers: Refrain from drinking coffee, smoking, or drinking too much at night, as it can take at least a few hours for your body to process these substances.
- Develop a sleep window: Designating a window of time to go to sleep and wake up at about the same hour, be it weekends or weekdays, will help your body get used to the routine.
- Exercise during the day. Exercise is a universal treatment for all ailments, including insomnia! Exercising will also help increase your sleep drive; the consumption of energy leads to more of a need for sleep, as your body wants to recover.
- Have a wind-down routine. It’s challenging to go from full-on work mode into sleep mode. It’s important to have a buffer between the time you spend doing stimulating goal-oriented activities and sleep. Fill this time with things you enjoy but don’t require any mental effort. Good examples are reading, watching a sitcom, yoga, or mindfulness.
The solutions mentioned above are, most of the time, only suited to treat acute insomnia. In chronic cases, addressing the underlying cause of the problem is a much more effective solution.
Should I see a doctor for my insomnia?
Insomnia may affect you both psychologically and physically, regardless of the cause of your sleep deprivation. People who experience insomnia have a worse quality of life than those who sleep well, often experiencing mood swings and potentially being predisposed to developing other health conditions.
While it may be tempting to resort to medication, keep in mind this only provides short-term relief, and getting to the root cause of the issue is the best way to cure insomnia for good. Numerous studies have showed that CBT-I can be more effective than prescription medication, with 75-80% of patients reporting significant improvements after CBT-I.
If insomnia decreases your ability to function properly throughout the day, you should consult a sleep professional to determine the potential causes of your sleeping issue—and how to treat them.
How CBT-I can cure your insomnia
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that focuses on how specific thinking patterns affect a person’s behavior and helps patients correct those “cognitive distortions” (inaccurate, negatively biased thoughts). This approach to therapy is used to treat numerous mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, and insomnia.
CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) addresses the feelings, thoughts, or actions that contribute to insomnia, such as stressing over the fact that you don’t get enough sleep or that your lack of sleep may lead to health issues or other problems in your daily life. The objective of CBT-I is to help the patient eliminate the frustration and anxiety they experience related to the process of sleep, allowing them to enjoy night after night of effortless sleep.
Due to its non-invasive nature, CBT-I has proven very successful in treating insomnia, leading to sustaining improvement in both sleep latency and total sleep time.
Start with Dawn today
Dawn is a safe, evidence-based program that employs CBT-I to restore your natural sleep ability. Dawn provides you with a tailored sleep plan, records your sleeping patterns, connects you with a sleep coach, and much more – all in accordance with requirements by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
If you are ready to explore long-term solutions to your sleeping issues, get started on the path to curing your insomnia for good!
Dr. Colleen Ehrnstrom is a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty practice in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Areas of expertise include insomnia and other sleep disorders, anxiety, and depression.