Therapy to get better sleep

November 13, 2009 5:22:56 PM PST
It is certain that good sleep contributes to our health, happiness and even safety. But sometimes good sleep is hard to come by. One program teaches people how to change some bad habits in order to lead to better sleep. There's nothing like a good deep sleep to make you feel better. Well some people have to take medications to help them achieve that. But there is also CBT, it's Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. They are sleep programs that work with you to teach you and your body how to get a better night's sleep.

Jill Artsis was dragging through her life. She just couldn't get good sleep.

Artsis said, "All I thought about was going home, all I wanted to do was sleep. And, when I got to sleep, I couldn't sleep."

Jill came to the Monteiores Sleep Wake Disorders Center in the Bronx.

That's where Dr. Shelby Harris runs a cognitive behavioral therapy program. Dr. Harris said, "People who can't sleep frequently do things that make matters worse."

So through detailed diaries, she begins changing patients bad habits, both at night and during the day. Dr. Harris said, "I think about sleep like a battery that's recharging. If you don't do things during the day, why would you need to recharge it at night."

She says the sleep deprived often do common sense things that say: If you can't sleep take a nap! Go to bed earlier.

Dr. Harris added, "Going to bed early, napping, that's the thing that get you in trouble for long term insomia for many people."

Changing Jill's insomnia included changes like throwing her dogs out of the bedroom, and getting back into exercising, which she had given up on.

Dr. Harris said, "People tend not to exercise as they're afraid they are going to have a lot of trouble at night. We want them to exercise. That's a big no, no, not exercising."

Another part of the program for Jill restricted her time in bed.

Dr. Harris stated, "Gradually, we trick your body into getting more sleep as you get better."

Restricting sleep hours and getting out of bed instead of tossing and turning are sometimes also prescribed.

Sleep therapy can take several months of changing habits, but once it's done, Dr. Harris says it's likely to last.

Dr. Harris said, "The studies are showing that 60 to 70% of the people who engage in treatment and actually follow through get better."

Jill was among them.

She said, "The first time I slept it was the coolest feeling ever."

Sleep experts stress that bed is only for sleeping and for sex. No bill paying, no notebook computing, and definitely no tv. Changes might also include cutting down on caffeine alcohol and big meals within 3 hours of bedtime. CBT also addresses how deal with the worries that keep people up at night.