Sleep Problems And Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Sleep Problems And Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

by Dr Emma Gray - 28th March, 2013

Sleep problems are incredibly common and affect millions of people each year. Sleep problems can be incredibly anxiety provoking causing both emotional distress and physical discomfort. Sleep problems can also affect memory, concentration, energy levels, and mood and can make you more prone to both physical and mental health problems.

A sleep problem however is usually a symptom of more complex problem for example stress, generalised worry, low self esteem or low confidence. Sleep problems also commonly co-occur with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety and eating disorders (e.g. anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or eating disorders not otherwise specified). Therefore treatment for sleep problems must be two fold. Firstly therapy should involve ‘sleep hygiene’ training, this is a behavioural therapy or counselling technique aimed at optimising the physical environment and an individual’s routine (especially during the latter part of the day) to ensure that they are as conducive to sleep as possible. The second part of any therapy programme for sleep problems should also involve an assessment of the thoughts associated with the sleep problem and a restructuring or replacement of those that are either inaccurate, self defeating, catastrophic or otherwise unhelpful and anxiety provoking. The best counselling approach for sleep problems is therefore Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as it combines the behavioural therapy necessary for sleep hygiene training with cognitive evaluation and restructuring. This is born out in the evidence base which has found Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to be the most effective form of counselling or therapy for sleep problems.

The Clinical and Counselling Psychologists at The British CBT & Counselling Service are specialists not only in working with sleep problems but in also in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) making them the counsellors of choice for individuals looking to resolve sleep problems and related psychological issues.


If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our page about Sleep Problems useful.


If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our Sleep and Chronic Fatigue Pages helpful.

Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

Read more about my approach to counselling here...

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