CBT Is the Trick That'll Get You to Sleep, New Research Finds

Claudia Canavan
Photo credit: Andersen Ross Photography Inc - Getty Images

From Women's Health

From herbal sleep aids to catching your zeds naked, there's few things that the chronically underslept UK population won't try, when it comes to getting those elusive eight hours.

(Quick re-cap: Fancy mattress-makers Emma grew their UK annual revenues by 246% in 2018, while, according to The Sleep Council, 23% of 25-34 year-olds have used a sleep tracker.)

But turns out, the real answer has been under our noses this whole time. CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is an effective way to deal with insomnia, experts have confirmed.

The academics behind the new work, which is published in the British Journal of General Practice, say that while the therapy does work, it's not widely known about or used enough.

[We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.]

CBT for sleep: why this could be the treatment to help you catch 8 hours

'There is a very effective treatment that doesn’t involve medication that should be available through your primary care service. If it’s not, it should be,' said Dr Judith Davidson, of Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, who worked on the findings.


The researched analysed 13 studies on the subject, and found that CBT was effective in aiding sleep – with effects that lasted until a follow-up, months later.

In CBT for sleep sessions, techniques such as limiting the number of hours spent in bed, cognitive techniques for re-framing your mental relationship to sleep and working on sleep hygiene (limiting caffeine and alcohol; not working too close to bedtime) are all used.

Participants given a course of CBT fell asleep an average of nine to 30 minutes sooner and had a reduction of between 22 and 36 minutes of time spent waking up during the night, versus those on a waiting list or given more traditional treatments.

The team found that a course of eight CBT sessions was needed for the improvements to take place.

Think you could benefit? Head to see your GP and ask to be referred for a course.

Now that you know about CBT for sleep, find out what happens when you go for a CBT session.

You Might Also Like