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Sleep Therapy : What Are the Better Sleep Solutions?

Updated on January 12, 2019
Sam Shepards profile image

I'm Sam. I enjoy writing about health and mental health-related topics as well as natural ways to prevent disease and stress.

The epidemic of insufficient sleep in society has become a difficult issue for a growing number of people. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that 1 in 6 adults have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder . Also, statistics show that the issue only increases with age. Thankfully, due to the advancement in sleep studies, there are many valuable options today that counteract the issue and assist with a good night’s sleep.

Sleep Therapy, Some Sleep Solutions We Have

Modern sleep therapy distills down to a few particular areas of expertise. Each choice is dependent primarily upon the severity of the subject’s issue and susceptibility. The following Six options are covered in this article:

  1. Sleep medicine and disorder clinics
  2. Prescription medication
  3. Ayurvedic and holistic practices
  4. Hypnotherapy
  5. Psychological, relaxation, sleep hygiene (preparing the body and brain for sleep)
  6. Natural and alternative medication

Sleep Medicine And Sleep Disorder Clinics

n sleep medicine and disorder clinics, individuals receive assistance from licensed physicians that utilize a battery of tests in order to deduce the possible problem at hand. These include polysomnography, the use of a sleep diary, and an MSLT test. All of these work to find the root cause of sleep deprivation and provide insight regarding how to correct it. Once the physician discovers the probable cause, then the necessary sleep therapy can be provided. Sleep clinics are the preeminent means to learn about and correct a sleep disorder but they unfortunately can be quite cost prohibitive.

Sleep Prescription Medication: Merits And Consequences

Another option that has become common in the last two decades is prescription sleep aids. These drugs are prescribed by medical practitioners to people with the inability to achieve proper rest. These items have become a popular choice for sleep therapy and their use is growing at a steady rate. A recent statistic shows that over 9 million Americans are now actively using prescription sleep aids, which is triple the use from just 15 years ago .

Even though these sleep aids have proven their value, they don’t arrive without consequences. There are many tales of unwanted side effects and struggles with addiction. Boards and blogs are flooded with people discussing their stories about late night sleepwalking, sleep eating, and even attempting intercourse with their spouse without awareness of their actions. The stories range from harmless movements all the way to outright dangerous actions. Consider the following account:

“I’ve been taking a sleep medication prescribed by my doctor for three months. At first I thought that the side effects were humorous as my husband joked about them to friends and family. Finally though, I was forced to quit them because I became violent. I would hit walls, and swing my fists at inanimate objects. The final straw came when I grabbed the keys, jumped in the car, and actually drove down the road to a neighbor’s house. My husband thankfully caught me before I knocked on their door. Unfortunately, I now have to find a new alternative.”
-Donna H., Little Rock, AR

For those considering prescription medications as part of their sleep therapy regimen, it is pertinent that you consider the possible side effects, possibilities of addiction, and cost. It’s obvious that these drugs have worked well for many people, but strong research and a healthy dose of wariness are great traits to have if you decide to give them a try.

Ayurvedic And Holistic Sleep Practices

An alternative sleep therapy to prescription medications is the use of Ayurvedic techniques. Ayurvedism is a healing system originating in ancient India. Its use is still widespread today and there has been a resurgence in the past decade among those seeking a less chemical-dependent means of healing their bodies and minds. The sleep therapy techniques that Ayurvedism utilizes range from the practice of proper breathing techniques and meditation to the utilization of specific foods and body oils prior to rest. Before you consider discounting the strength of this alternative, you might reconsider. Ayurvedism is practiced by over 1 billion people across the world for good reason: It works.

Another alternative available is the use of hypnotherapy. This enigmatic and powerful therapy has helped millions of people with everything from quitting smoking to having teeth removed without the aid of anesthesia. A skilled and educated hypnotherapist can, through multiple sessions, transform many people’s sleep issue into a full nights rest. The therapist does this through the utilization of different techniques that work with the subject’s subconscious mind, redirecting the problem and clearing the path toward a better sleep pattern.

Hypnotherapy for Sleep Issues

Many probable candidates have been found to disregard hypnotherapy, presuming that they cannot be hypnotized or, on the other end of the spectrum, that they fear being susceptible to the therapist. Both of these concerns are without merit. It’s been proven that the more intelligent the individual, the easier it is for them to be induced. Also, susceptibility to hypnotherapy has been over dramatized by television. No matter how hypnotized a healthy individual is, they are always in control of their actions enough to quit the session if it ever becomes uncomfortable. Hypnotherapy is a great tool for those seeking better sleep and should remain high on the list of alternatives in sleep therapy. The only caveat is that due to lack of regulation in the industry, make sure to find an established and trained hypnotherapist with acceptable credentials.

Psychological, Relaxation Strategies, Sleep Hygiene

Currently there is a tendency to use psychological treatments, sleep therapy, because of the limitations of the drugs, as well as recognition of the role of psychological factors in these disorders. The aim of these treatments is to change maladaptive sleep habits, modify dysfunctional beliefs, and reduce the physiological and cognitive activation.

A. Relaxation & cognitive strategies

They are most appropriate when the insomnia is associated with physiological arousal and / or cognitive. To reduce physiological arousal, the strategies used are more progressive relaxation and autogenic training; while for cognitive activation techniques are recommended such as meditation and training your imagination.

B. Stimulus control

This technique is used to reduce behaviors incompatible with sleep and regulate your sleep wake schedule. The aim is to establish an association between stimuli in the room and sleep generation. To do this sleep therapies recommend:

  • Go to bed only when sleepy.
  • Establish a set of bedtime routines, behaviors that indicate the proximity of bedtime. Perform these every night in the same order.
  • If after 15-20 minutes of being in bed you cannot sleep, it is advised to get up and go to another room. If you want, you can do a quiet activity, return to the bedroom when you begin to feel sleepy. If you cannot sleep, you can perform this step as often as necessary.
  • Keep a regular bedtime and try to wake up at the same time every day. No matter how long you slept, even if you haven’t nearly slept enough.
  • Avoid napping if you have sleeping problems. This will only make it harder for the body to find its natural rhythm.
  • Do not use the bed and bedroom for activities other than sleep or sex. .

We observed that this technique improves total sleep time, and the efficiency and quality of this.

C. Sleep Hygiene, your body needs to be ready for sleep

Aims to achieve more good sleep habits that facilitate sleep, through factors related to lifestyle (drinking coffee, alcohol, exercise …) and factors related to the environment (temperature, noise, light …).


  • Do not consume caffeinated substances, at least 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • No excessive physical exercise before going to sleep.
  • Do not eat large amounts of food and / or fluids before sleep.
  • If you wake up at night, do not eat. It’s common for people to start snacking. The body could get used to waking up whenever you’re hungry.
  • Check your environment ensuring that the temperature is comfortable (not exceeding 23 degrees Celsius). Reduce light and noise in the bedroom. If you can’t achieve this then buy sleep apparel to help you.
  • Do not go to bed hungry or thirsty …
  • Remove the alarm clock in the room to reduce anxiety. You know when you start watching the time and think to yourself, damn I only have x amount of time to sleep.

These techniques have limited effectiveness when applied individually. Best results are obtained when combined with other treatment alternatives.

D. Sleep restriction, a bed is for sleeping

Reduction of the time the patient spends in bed. You only stay in the bed to get your set hours of sleep every night. The method involves training the patient to go to bed only when tired, getting up if he has not slept in 15 minutes.

E. Specific cognitive techniques

This is one of the major therapeutic components of sleep therapy. It aims to teach patients to alter dysfunctional sleep-related cognition, identifying those unwanted and replacing them with more adaptive elements. Among these techniques are:

  1. Paradoxical intention aims to teach the patient to discontinue the concern for insomnia, indicating that you try to stay awake as long as possible when in bed.
  2. Cognitive restructuring aims to teach the patient to identify and replace irrational beliefs with more constructive ones. It has shown its effectiveness in multi-component treatments.

Paradoxical Intention Explained For Falling A Sleep

Stress when not falling asleep

One of the challenges of sleep disorders is that the longer they go on, the more worked up about them you get. This in turn makes you more stressed, making it even more difficult to sleep. There are a number of therapies under the umbrella of cognitive-behavioral therapies that aim to solve this problem by changing the way you perceive sleep. One of these therapies is called paradoxical intention, and its goal is to enable you to confront your anxiety about insomnia and eliminate the anxiety you feel around falling asleep.

What is Paradoxical Intention?

In general, paradoxical intention is a therapeutic technique that helps a patient to engage in his or her most feared behavior. While this may seem counterintuitive, the goal is to reduce the fear of that behavior by confronting it. When it comes to insomnia and other sleep disorders, the target fear is not being able to fall asleep. If you suffer from insomnia, you’ve probably spent many nights trying to get asleep. As you’ve spent longer and longer unable sleep, you probably find yourself getting frustrated and worked up. This can make it even harder.

Using paradoxical intention, you confront the fear of not being able to fall asleep by staying awake. Instead of actively trying to fall asleep, you passively stay awake. Some psychologists believe that sleep disorders are related to a kind of performance anxiety. You know that you’re trying to sleep, and you feel a lot of pressure to do so. By not putting any effort into falling asleep, you can relieve that pressure. The goal is that you eventually accept being calmly awake as a suitable alternative to quickly falling asleep. This takes away the pressure of attempting to go to dreamland, which paradoxically makes it easier to sleep.

How Can You Use Paradoxical Intention?

Most people work with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or physician to use paradoxical intention. One of these professionals can help you to get in the right mind frame to tackle your fear. You’ll learn how to stop trying to get sleeping in an effective way. You may try using this mind trick on your own, but you may have the best chance of success when working with a professional. The therapy has been found to be generally successful when done thoroughly, and it doesn’t have any side effects. If other approaches aren’t helping to relieve your sleep problems, it may be worth trying.

Cognitive Restructuring Explained

Therapy useful for insomnia

If you struggle with insomnia, you probably know that the causes can be both physical and mental. For this reason, many kinds of sleep therapy use cognitive techniques, which work to reshape the way you think. Cognitive therapy is used as a part of psychotherapy for many kinds of problems, including anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.

The goal is to identify the thinking patterns behind these issues and change dysfunctional elements on those thoughts. Because you’re fixing thinking patterns at their root, this therapy can provide a lasting solution. One of the most popular kinds of cognitive therapy, and one that has proved effective for insomnia, is cognitive restructuring.

What Is Cognitive Restructuring?

Cognitive restructuring is the process of identifying and contesting irrational thought processes (usually called cognitive distortions). Irrational thought processes include things such as black and white thinking, emotional reasoning, and magnification. These and other mental distortions are tied to a number of mental disorders. These irrational thoughts usually occur automatically.

The goal of restructuring is for the patient to identify these problems and then learn to dispute them with rational thoughts. It can be completed alone or with the help of a psychotherapist, and it can incorporate multiple techniques. The therapist and patient may use thought recording and labels of distortions to identify problematic thoughts. They may use pro/con lists and lists of rational alternatives in order to help the patient overcome the distorted thinking.

Cognitive restructuring may also employ guided imagery, Socratic questioning, or other methods to be effective. The therapy helps the patient to restructure their thoughts and the way they talk to themselves. That should help to repair their mood and alleviate the disorder they’re treating.

How Does Cognitive Restructuring Help Insomnia?

Cognitive restructuring is most helpful to relieve insomnia that is caused by anxiety. Your thoughts have a huge affect on both your emotions and your physical body, as you likely know if you suffer from anxiety. The good news about this is that, just as anxiety can negatively affect you, positive thoughts can help you to overcome many problems (this is why the placebo effect is so powerful).

If you have anxiety-related insomnia, you probably have lots of negative thoughts while trying to fall asleep. You may be worried about your inability to fall asleep, concerned about how tired you’ll feel tomorrow, or afraid that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night, for example. These negative thoughts will only make you more stressed and make it more difficult to sleep.

Cognitive restructuring helps to make you more aware of the flow of these thoughts. Once you have identified these thoughts, you can counter them with more rational, positive thoughts. These will help to unravel your stress, and over time can diminish the cause of your insomnia.

Natural and alternative medication

Finally, many people with less complicated sleep issues find that natural medications have proven beneficial in helping them achieve a restful sleep. Herbal medicines for sleeping such as valerian root, chamomile, and passion flower are common choices. The most popular preference in the natural arena has been the natural melatonin hormone. For many, this safe alternative provides them the necessary means for sleeping soundly. Also, it doesn’t have the side-effects or cost prohibitive problems associated with prescription drugs.

Holistic practitioners will often mix natural ingredients together in order to create a more powerful sleep therapy cocktail. For people wanting to find a good night’s sleep devoid of the complications or detailed rituals that many of the above choices provide, you may find that these natural substitutes are the perfect sleep therapy for your restless nights.

Final words on Therapeutic sleep solutions

In summation, depending on the severity of an individual’s sleep issue, there are many valuable tools available that can assist with recovering from it. Given that sleep problems can increase as we age it is best to take command of the problem as soon as possible. The alternatives available can assist in your recovery and help you on your way toward a much more restful sleep.

Some Ambient Music To Relax


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting and well presented. This is a very serious issue and it is good to learn more about it.


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