NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Millions of people suffered from insomnia before the pandemic, so you can imagine how many people have dealt with sleepless nights since then. But if tossing, turning, and waking up in the middle of the night has become your new normal – experts say you may need to ‘retrain’ your body. It’s called cognitive behavioral therapy- insomnia, or CBT-I.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Lydia MacDonald with Vanderbilt University Medical Center says CBT-I is all about educating people about the way they approach sleep and retraining their body 

It starts with a sleep diary to track how long it takes to fall asleep and how much sleep people actually get. From there, MacDonald educates patients on strategies to get better quality sleep.

That includes: 

-       Don’t toss and turn for too long. If you’re not asleep, get out of bed!

-       Keeping the bed a place for sleep. Don’t do things like eat, use your cell phone, or watch TV in bed.

-       Maintain a sleep schedule. Having a regular bedtime and wake time, even on weekends, helps your body maintain a sleep rhythm.

MacDonald says CBT-I can also help people figure out exactly how much sleep people actually need. She says the therapy often starts by compressing the amount of time a person sleeps.

“Once they're sleeping in a consolidated way with fewer interruptions, then we just sort of extend the window a little bit longer to see if their body can fill up that much sleep,” says MacDonald.

MacDonald says CBT-I usually takes about eight sessions, but that patients need to be dedicated to the program to see the best results.

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