CBTI: The Gold Standard Insomnia Treatment for women

Elise Petit

Insomnia, which is trouble sleeping, can affect anyone, but it's more common in women. In fact, women are about twice as likely to have it compared to men. This increased sensitivity becomes particularly noticeable during specific life events, such as pregnancy, menopause, and periods of high stress.

Insomnia: A Woman's Burden

Studies consistently show that women are more likely than men to experience insomnia. This gender disparity in insomnia prevalence is a complex issue influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors. Hormonal fluctuations throughout a woman's life, such as those during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, can contribute to sleep disturbances. Furthermore, the burden of caregiving and household responsibilities often falls unequally on women, adding stressors that can disrupt sleep patterns.

Insomnia Across Life Stages

Menstrual insomnia

Many women experience sleep disturbances during their menstrual cycle, particularly dealing with insomnia before their period. Hormonal shifts, like estrogen and progesterone fluctuations, can lead to mood swings and sleep disturbances.

Pregnancy insomnia

Pregnancy brings a myriad of physical and hormonal changes that can disrupt sleep. Frequent urination, discomfort, and hormonal fluctuations are common culprits for sleep disturbances during this time.

Postpartum insomnia

After giving birth, many women experience trouble sleeping because of the physical and hormonal changes that happen during pregnancy. Frequent trips to the bathroom, discomfort, hormonal shifts, and the demands of baby sleep can make it hard to sleep.

Menopause insomnia

Menopausal women often face sleep challenges because the dramatic decrease in estrogen levels. They can experience night sweats, hot flashes and mood swings that all contribute to insomnia during this life stage.

Comparing CBT-I to Other Treatments

While medications like sleeping pills may offer temporary relief, they are not without risks, including dependency and side effects. Moreover, they do not address the underlying causes of insomnia. This is where cognitive CBTI (behavioral therapy for insomnia) shines as a gold standard treatment.

  1. Non-Pharmacological Approach: CBTI is a non-pharmacological, evidence-based treatment that targets the root causes of insomnia. It does not rely on medication and, therefore, avoids potential side effects or dependency issues.
  2. Long term results: CBTI improves long-term sleep by altering behavior and thoughts about sleep. Unlike medication, which provides short-term relief, CBTI equips patients with lifelong skills for managing their sleep.
  3. Individualized Treatment: CBTI is highly personalized, addressing the unique circumstances and challenges that women face during different life stages.

Clinical Results and Success Stories

Clinical trials have consistently shown the efficacy of CBTI in improving sleep for women experiencing insomnia during various life stages. The Stanford team, who developed the Moonalisa content product, published a study in May 2019. CBTI significantly improved sleep quality and duration in pregnant women, enhancing their overall well-being during pregnancy

Furthermore, a 2018 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found CBTI effective in relieving menopausal symptoms associated with insomnia, including hot flashes and night sweats.

The Core Components of CBT-I

CBTI improves long-term sleep by altering behavior and thoughts about sleep. Here are the core components of CBTI:

  1. Sleep Education: Understanding the basics of sleep and the factors that influence it is crucial. CBTI educates individuals about sleep hygiene, circadian rhythms, and the role of stress in sleep disturbances.
  2. Sleep Restriction: This technique limits time in bed to match actual sleep duration. By gradually increasing time in bed as sleep improves, individuals develop a stronger association between the bed and sleep.
  3. Stimulus Control: Stimulus control techniques help break the association between the bed and wakefulness. This includes using the bed only for sleep and avoiding stimulating activities in bed.
  4. Relaxation Techniques: Learning relaxation techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness can help manage stress and insomnia.
  5. Cognitive Restructuring: Identifying and challenging negative thought patterns about sleep is a crucial aspect of CBTI. By changing these thought patterns, individuals can reduce anxiety and worry related to sleep.
  6. Sleep Diary: Keeping a sleep diary helps track sleep patterns and identify specific triggers for insomnia. It provides valuable information for therapists to tailor the treatment.

Slumber Strategies for Women at Different Life Stages

  1. Menstruation: During the menstrual cycle, some women experience sleep disturbances. To address this, practicing relaxation techniques, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and reducing caffeine intake in the evening can be helpful.
  2. Pregnancy: Pregnant women can benefit from sleep education and adopt a side-sleeping position, often recommended for the baby's health. Maintaining a comfortable sleep environment with body pillows and adequate support can also improve sleep quality.
  3. Postpartum: After giving birth, some women may face sleep disruptions. To alleviate this, practicing relaxation techniques, sticking to a regular sleep routine, and reducing evening caffeine consumption can be beneficial.
  4. Menopause: Menopausal women can improve sleep by adjusting room temperature and using moisture-wicking sleepwear and bedding. Engaging in relaxation exercises before bedtime can help alleviate anxiety and improve sleep.

Click here to watch Dr. Natalie Solomon from Stanford University share free sleep-improvement strategies for women.

Introducing Moonalisa

Moonalisa builds on effective Stanford CBTI protocols and is an innovative text-based digital coaching solution for personalized insomnia management. This innovative platform harnesses the power of CBTI while leveraging cutting-edge technology to deliver personalized support and guidance.

Moonalisa tailors strategies for insomnia during various life stages, like menstruation, pregnancy, postpartum, menopause, and stress. Moonalisa offers evidence-based support and progress tracking via a user-friendly text interface.

Click here to take the Moonalisa sleep quiz and discover how Moonalisa can assist you in improving your sleep.

November 1, 2023

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Disclaimer: Moona Health offers telehealth services focusing on the self-management and well-being of individuals diagnosed with insomnia. It is designed to complement, not replace, the care provided by your healthcare provider or existing insomnia treatments. Continue following your healthcare provider's guidance, including medication regimens. If you experience thoughts of self-harm or harming others, immediately contact emergency services by dialing 911 (or your local emergency number) or visit the nearest emergency department.
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