Insomnia Treatment for Every Schedule
Last updated: April 2022
The most highly recommended treatment for insomnia disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTi). While it is highly effective, it can be hard to access. It can be challenging to find affordable treatment with a skilled provider. And, weekly or biweekly in-person sessions may be difficult to manage if you’re balancing work, childcare, school, or other demands. Fortunately, technology is providing accessible options for insomnia treatment with virtual CBTi.
Technology is expanding virtual cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia
CBTi-informed treatments are becoming increasingly available. Innovations in technology and telehealth have led to more treatment options. These options may be more convenient and affordable for those suffering from insomnia.
Researchers recently reviewed the data from several studies of virtual treatment approaches. These approaches included:1
- Web-based CBTi with video and a live therapist
- Web-based CBTi with video and an automated therapist “bot”
- Telephone-based CBTi
- Standalone CBTi mobile apps
- Self-help books based on CBTi
Virtual cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia works
I was pleasantly surprised to read that participants reported improvement in their insomnia symptoms regardless of which treatment they received. Participants in all studies reported longer total sleep duration, shorter time needed to fall asleep, and less time awake during the middle of the night1
Choosing a treatment option
Although all of the treatment options led to improvements in insomnia symptoms, there were differences. Some finer points from the results can help you choose which treatment to pursue. Importantly, web-based CBTi that included a video connection outperformed the other treatment options. The biggest surprise to me was that there was no difference between whether participants met with a real therapist or a programmed “bot” – as long as a video connection was used.
So while all of the treatment options discussed above are effective, some are more effective than others. Consider the intensity of your symptoms and how they affect your everyday life. If your insomnia is fairly mild and you don’t have other medical concerns, a self-directed app or self-help book may get you back on track. But if your insomnia symptoms are severe, have been going on for years, and/or are having a big impact on your life, you may want to consider a more intensive approach.
Partnering with a health care provider
While scheduling regular meetings with a provider can feel like an extra demand on your time and wallet, it will likely be worth your effort. Working with a provider who understands your whole picture will lead to a more personalized CBTi approach.
A treatment for every schedule
The increasing availability of CBTi-influenced treatments makes me hopeful that good treatment will be available to more people. Since treatment is not one-size-fits-all, people with insomnia can try a couple of different approaches until they find the one that fits them best.
If you’ve tried a virtual approach to CBTi, let us know what you thought in the comments.
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