Say ‘yes’ to a good night’s sleep, through online CBT

Our online CBT programme provides immediate access to therapy with NO waiting list.

You can participate from the comfort of your own home, at your own pace, while being supported by one of our practitioners through regular reviews.
It's FREE, confidential and available if you’re 17+ and registered with a Surrey GP.
Start today
Found this interesting?
Share it!

Insomnia is characterised by difficulty falling sleep, staying asleep or waking up too early. It’s more common than you might think and, if left unaddressed, can lead to physical and mental health issues. The good news is there’s help available; Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based approach that has been proven to be highly effective in treating insomnia.

We are all individuals and respond to situations and tools to help manage those situations differently. Maybe your current method of tackling poor sleep isn’t working for you, or you haven’t yet explored strategies to help you deal with this.

DHC Talking Therapies is a free NHS service, and we can help.

We offer an online CBT programme supported by one of our expert practitioners – specially designed to help combat sleep problems. You will:

  • Understand the barriers preventing a good night’s sleep.
  • Practice methods to quiet your mind and drift off peacefully.
  • Discover practical strategies to break free from waking up in the night or too early.
  • Learn about sleep cycles and exercises designed to promote deeper sleep.

By exploring the connection between the way you think, the things you do and how you sleep, you will begin to identify those negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are contributing to your insomnia. You will then work to reframe these in a way that is more conducive to a restful sleep. Sounds simple? Here’s an example of some of the techniques you’ll learn on your journey with us to a good night’s sleep…

Cognitive restructuring

This approach is about breaking the cycle of inaccurate or unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about sleep. Examples include, “I’ll never get enough sleep” or “I won’t be able to function tomorrow”. The response to such anxiety around sleep may be to spend excessive time in bed to try and force sleep. This, in turn, can make falling sleep even more challenging, resulting in an unhealthy nightly cycle which is difficult to break.

Through cognitive restructuring, you will be challenged and encouraged to think differently, replacing these thoughts with more helpful and realistic ones. For example, “I’ve handled poor sleep before, and I can do it again. I’ll focus on relaxing and see what happens”.
Sleep restriction therapy

Insomniacs often spend too much time lying in bed awake, which is ironic in a way. This method involves limiting the time spent in bed to the actual amount of time spent sleeping. This sleep efficiency is improved by creating a mild state of (temporary) sleep deprivation, thus increasing the drive to sleep.

You will start by logging sleep using a diary, which will give you the total time spent asleep on a typical night. If this is less than 85% of the time you spend in bed each night, sleep restriction may be for you.

Your sleep window is then adjusted to reflect the total time spent asleep, plus 30 minutes. For example, if you are in bed for 8 hours but only asleep for 5 hours, you will start by adjusting your bedtime to spend 5 hours and 30 minutes in bed. Gradually increase your sleep window by 30 minutes each week as your sleep efficiency improves, until you feel you are getting sufficient sleep. It’s important that this schedule is followed every night, even on weekends, and that naps are avoided.

Stimulus control therapy – the 7 rules

This practice is based on the principle that engaging in other behaviours in bed reduces the chance of sleep, whilst strengthening the negative association between bed and being awake.

  1. Do not go to bed before your set ‘going to bed’ time. Allow time to wind down (away from the bedroom), write down any worries and plans to deal with them.
  2. Go to bed when sleepy. Being tired and sleepy are not the same thing. Engage in relaxing activities outside the bedroom to help you wind down.
  3. The 15/20 minute rule. If you are not asleep within this time after going to bed, go to a different room and do something quiet and relaxing, returning after 15/20 minutes but only if sleepy.
  4. If you are not asleep after 15/20 minutes of returning to bed, repeat.
  5. Reserve bed for sleep (and sex). Avoid watching TV, surfing the internet, eating and even reading in bed.
  6. Maintain a regular waking/getting up time. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends, regardless of bedtime and hours slept.
  7. Do not nap in the day.

This is only a snapshot of some of the techniques we use. With the right tools and guidance, and your commitment to the process, you can look forward to improved sleep quality and overall wellbeing.