Sleep Better, Save More Money

By Gina Roberts-Grey

Treating your insomnia could be good for your budget. According to a study in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which is published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, using cognitive behavioral therapy to treat the sleep disorder insomnia can cut the amount you spend on health care and also the number of trips you make to the doctor.

The study noted that 86 percent of patients living with insomnia were able to trim healthcare-related costs by more than $200 on average after six months of weekly cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) treatment.

“This study reaffirms that cognitive behavioral therapy is clinically effective, and it provides promising new evidence that even brief treatment with CBTI may help to reduce healthcare utilization costs,” said Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine President Dr. Michael T. Smith in a statement.

CBTI is considered an effective alternative to sleep medications. As a bonus, patients rarely experience side effects from CBTI, unlike dependency and other side effects of medicine.

How it Works

According to the Mayo Clinic, the cognitive part of CBTI teaches you to recognize and change beliefs that affect your ability to sleep. That may include learning how to control or eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep you awake. The behavioral part of the therapy promotes healthy sleep habits while teaching you how to avoid habits and behaviors that keep you from a good night’s sleep. It’s common to combine several behavioral methods to ensure results.

Here are some of the most common CBTI techniques, according to the Mayo Clinic:

Stimulus control therapy. This helps remove factors that condition you to resist sleep. For instance, you might be taught to set a consistent bedtime and wake time and avoid naps. Other stimulus control therapies could include using the bed only for sleep and sex, and leaving the bedroom if you can’t get to sleep within 20 minutes, returning only when you’re sleepy.

Sleep restriction. Some people develop the habit of lying in bed awake (to read, watch TV, relax, etc.) which can become a habit that leads to poor sleep. Sleep restriction decreases the time you spend in bed, causing partial sleep deprivation so you’re tired the next night.

Sleep hygiene. Changing basic lifestyle activities to modify or eliminate habits such as smoking, drinking caffeine late in the day, drinking too much alcohol or not getting regular exercise can induce restful sleep.

Sleep environment improvement. Creating a comfortable sleep environment by keeping your bedroom quiet, dark and cool and keeping electronics such as phones and televisions out of the bedroom can affect sleep.

Relaxation training. Relaxation helps you calm your mind and body through meditation, imagery, muscle relaxation and others.

Biofeedback. Observing biological signs such as heart rate and muscle tension and learning how to adjust them can promote sleep.

Although the long-term cost savings can add up to a tidy sum, insomniacs shouldn’t expect their budget to see an immediate benefit.

The authors noted that the cost of brief treatment with CBTI—about $460 in the study—may negate the short-term savings produced in the first six months after treatment. However, the lessons learned and sleep habits formed can last a lifetime and can add up to substantial long-term savings.