The Science Behind Sleeping Well
Sleep is important.
Now, that might seem like rather an obvious thing to say, but it's certainly an easy thing to forget when we're sleeping well. However, when we're not sleeping well, it can become all too obvious, all too quickly, just how important it is.
When we don't sleep well, things can start to feel pretty rubbish. Poor sleep can affect our mood and our cognitive ability, particularly things like memory and concentration, and because we often feel exhausted it can lead us to opt out of doing the things we want to be doing. When we're sleep deprived, even relatively straightforward tasks become difficult, and poor sleep can even affect the relationships we have with the people we care about. Enough said - sleep really is important.
The trouble is, when we're not sleeping well, getting back to sleeping well may feel like an insurmountable task. Indeed, this is particularly the case if you're lying in bed thinking about it on repeat at 3am. However, there's good news on that front. There are a group of clinical techniques that have been developed and refined over the course of the last few decades to tackle insomnia head on and to do so without having to rely on medication. It's called Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy for Insomnia, CBT-I for short.
Now, because poor sleep is something that is rooted in a number of different but associated areas of our experience, CBT-I works across several distinct elements of insomnia, tackling the problems step-by-step. The cognitive element is all to do with our thinking patterns, our beliefs and our perceptions and the behavioural element tackles our habits and behavioural responses to poor sleep.
The most important thing about CBT-I is that it's an evidence-based treatment. Put simply, that means it has been really well tested by clinicians and researchers, often using the most powerful kinds of clinical tests, the Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT). The evidence that it is effective at treating insomnia is so compelling that it is recommended as a first-line clinical intervention in international clinical guidelines.