Home » Patients » Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
October 2020 |  Reviewed by:  Reeba Mathew, MD and Shelley Hershner, MD

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you change actions or thoughts that can keep you from sleeping well. It helps you develop habits that promote a healthy pattern of sleep. CBT is most often used to treat insomnia. Talk to your medical provider or a sleep doctor to see if one of these methods might improve your sleep.

What are the types of cognitive behavioral therapy?

Stimulus Control

A stimulus is anything that causes a response. The goal of this method is for you to have a positive response when you get into bed at night. It is used for people who toss and turn in bed, unable to fall asleep. When this happens for many nights, you begin to get frustrated. You may even dread bedtime, expecting to toss and turn for hours. Bedtime, and even your bed itself, can then cause you to have a negative response.

This method teaches you to use the bed only for sleep and for sex. You are not to read, watch TV, or do anything else in bed. You are also taught to go to bed only when you feel very sleepy. If you are not asleep after about 20 minutes, then you are to get out of bed to do something else relaxing. When you feel sleepy again, you return to bed.

Over time, this method helps you to fall asleep more quickly. You begin to have a positive response toward going to bed at night. Instead of being frustrating, it becomes relaxing and restful.

Sleep restriction

This method sets strict limits on the time you spend in bed. The initial limit used is the same as the amount o