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What Is Sleep Therapy?

Learn what sleep therapy is from sleep specialist Janet Kennedy, Ph.D. in this Howcast video.


Hi, I'm Janet Kennedy. I'm a licensed clinical psychologist and sleep specialist in New York City. You can find out more about me and my work on my website, Sleep therapy refers to cognitive behavioral therapy designed to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. It's a short term treatment done in an office setting with a psychotherapist who's trained in this specific form of therapy. It's a scientifically proven method and it's actually been proven to be more effective than medication. That's because it treats the underlying problem of the sleep disorder instead of just treating the symptom of sleeplessness. You don't have to stop taking medications to start therapy. Therapy can help you stop taking medication, or at least start to limit your use. The first focus of the treatment is on changing your behavior and also changing your schedule so that you're sleeping in a more consolidated way. That means that the time your in bed in spent asleep and when you're awake you're out of bed. Sometimes the changes you have to make to make that happen are uncomfortable. And they involve getting out of bed when you're unable to sleep, but when you power through that and you get some experience of being asleep in your bed and not anxious in your bed it starts to accumulate and get easier. Once that's underway the focus of the treatment shifts to the anxious thought process that happens when you're not sleeping. Your thoughts do two things. They interfere with your sleep by releasing adrenalin and that stimulates your body and keeps you awake. And they also encourage you to do things that are counterproductive like go to bed to early, spend lots of time trying to fall asleep and drinking lots of coffee, for example. It's really gratifying to see the progression as people start to learn to sleep naturally and learn to rely on their own body and their own skills for getting that done.

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