How CBT Helps With Alcohol-Induced Insomnia

How CBT Helps With Alcohol-Induced Insomnia

It’s not unreasonable to think that alcohol could be considered the most dangerous substance. While alcohol is legal, accepted, and encouraged throughout various cultures globally, that tolerance contributes to the problem. Alcohol is an ingredient found in wine, beer, and spirits widely enjoyed by individuals of varying ages and backgrounds. 

Alcohol is formed when yeast ferments the sugars in different food products. Wine is made from grapes, vodka from the sugar in potatoes, beets, or other plants. We’ve all heard the conflicting stories about alcohol being beneficial to our health in moderation, but those predisposed to addiction know this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Unfortunately, a glass of wine with dinner may turn into much more. It may lead to an alcohol use disorder (AUD) that causes harm in your life. You may start to notice the toll alcohol is taking on your life and decide you need a change. One of the challenges linked to quitting, however, is alcohol-induced insomnia. When you ask those who start drinking again after they’ve attempted to stop, a massive contributor to relapse is insomnia—alcohol helps them sleep.

A study released by the National Library of Medicine indicates that anywhere from 36 to 72 percent of people diagnosed with alcohol use disorder have insomnia. Experts have come together and agreed on the link that exists between alcohol, insomnia, and relapse. Several experiments have been conducted over the past two decades to find a solution to this issue. The conclusion is that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps with alcohol-induced insomnia

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychological treatment that effectively treats anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug use issues, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. Studies have shown that CBT leads to a significant improvement in the quality of life and how someone functions in it. The advances on the topic have come from clinical and research practice, and it’s an approach where scientific methods have been proven to produce change. CBT also differs from other psychological treatments in a few ways.

CBT is based on various core principles that include:

  • Psychological issues are based on unhelpful ways of thinking.
  • Psychological issues are based on unhelpful behaviors that are learned.
  • Individuals struggling with psychological problems have the power to learn more efficient ways of coping with them, which will lead to the relief of their symptoms and lead to more effective lives. 

CBT treatment typically involves efforts designed to change thinking patterns. Some of these strategies may include:

  • Gathering a better understanding of how others behave and their motivations.
  • Working on learning your distortions in thought and how they create problems, followed by reevaluation in the light of reality.
  • Implementing problem-solving skills to cope with challenging situations.
  • Developing a greater sense of confidence in your abilities. 

CBT treatment will also involve an effort to change behavioral patterns, including:

  • Facing your fears instead of avoiding them.
  • Learning how to calm your mind and body.
  • Role-playing to prepare for interactions with others.

During therapy, you may not use all of these methods. The psychologist is responsible for working alongside you to determine which strategy they can implement to help you overcome your specific issues. 

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that’s characterized by challenges falling asleep or staying asleep. As a result, you may have a diminished quality-of-life due to your poor sleep, which can lead to a host of health problems. Insomnia can be acute or chronic and may be exacerbated by issues like cessation from alcohol. Those at risk of developing insomnia include:

  • Those under immense pressure or stress.
  • Depression or other emotional distress, including the death of a loved one or divorce.
  • Those who have a lower income.
  • Those who work nights or experience frequent major shifts in work hours.
  • Those traveling long distances with time changes.
  • An inactive lifestyle.

Symptoms of Insomnia

  • Waking up too early
  • Sleeping for short periods.
  • Lying awake for an extended period before falling asleep.
  • Staying awake for much of the night.

Insomnia and Its Relationship With Alcohol

Since anxiety and depression are linked to insomnia, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that drinking may be used to ease their symptoms. Nearly 20 percent of Americans with anxiety or other mood disorders also report alcohol or substance use disorders. Alcohol is the most-widely used sleeping agent by the general public. An estimated 13 percent of respondents described using alcohol to sleep, while an additional two percent used alcohol for a month straight to promote sleep. 

How CBT Helps With Alcohol-Induced Insomnia

The initial step is to treat insomnia, which may involve a lifestyle change to relieve acute symptoms. It should help with falling asleep and staying asleep, but others struggling more will find relief through cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT is a structured program that will help you identify and replace thoughts or behaviors that worsen your sleep issues. Unlike sleep pills, CBT will help you dig to the root and find the underlying causes of insomnia.

The cognitive portion of CBT will teach you to recognize and change the thoughts that affect your sleep problem. The behavioral aspect of it will help you develop better sleeping habits by avoiding behaviors that keep you from sleeping well. Depending on your specific needs, the sleep therapist may recommend some of the following techniques:

  • Stimulus control therapy: This method works to remove factors that condition your mind to resist falling asleep. You may be coached to set a consistent bedtime and wake time. You will be told to avoid naps, use your bed for only sex and sleep, and leave the bedroom if you’re unable to fall asleep in 20 minutes, only to return when sleepy. 
  • Sleep restrictions: If you lay in bed when you’re awake, it may become a habit that leads to poor sleep habits. This form of treatment aims to reduce the amount of time spent in bed, which may cause partial sleep deprivation, making you more tired the following day. When your sleep improves, your time in bed will gradually increase.
  • Sleep hygiene: This refers to changing basic lifestyle habits that influence sleep, such as drinking alcohol, not getting regular exercise, or consuming caffeine late in the day. It will provide you with other tips that help you sleep better and how to wind down an hour or two before bedtime.
  • Sleep environment improvement: This will provide you with a way to create a comfortable sleeping environment. You will be told to keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and not have a TV in your bedroom. You should also hide your clock from your view. 
  • Relaxation training: This will help you to keep your mind and body calm. It also includes muscle relaxation, imagery, and meditation. 

The most effective approaches will implement a combination of what we discussed above. If you’re struggling to fall asleep and you’ve turned to alcohol, it’s crucial to get help immediately. Alcohol consumption can lead to addiction, which can cause more problems than sleeplessness in your life. 

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