24 August 2019
Passengers try to catch sleep at a train station in China. Studies show that people around the world are sleeping less than before. Photo: CNSA
Passengers try to catch sleep at a train station in China. Studies show that people around the world are sleeping less than before. Photo: CNSA

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia

According to an international research on sleeping habits, Hong Kong people have a poorer quality of sleep than those in the mainland and Taiwan. One in every 10 Hongkongers is bothered by insomnia.

All over the world, the number of hours of sleep that people are having is declining, various studies show. Some take sleeping pills, some try aromatherapy while others consult the doctor. All they want is a good night’s sleep.

The Secrets of Sleep, a new television program bought by government broadcaster RTHK, talks about the causes of insomnia and offers some useful tips on how to deal with it.

Guy Leschziner, a famous neurologist and sleep physician, tries to treat a group of people suffering from chronic insomnia.

Sleep problem experts specializing in sleepology, physiology, psychology and other fields also appear on the show to sort out sleeping difficulties.

Viewers can learn from a variety of cases and see which method works best for them.

Stephanie Romiszewski, another sleep behavior expert, questions the effectiveness of certain medicines and psychological therapies used to address anxiety-related sleeping problems. She proposes using behavioral therapy to improve sleep quality.

Once the patient has sufficient amount of sleep, it is easier to cope with stress-related emotions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) seeks to rebuild the lost association between the bedroom and sleep.

Patients are not supposed to enter the bedroom unless they feel tired, and regardless of how badly they sleep the previous night, patients must get up at the same hour everyday.

Leave the bed within 15 to 20 minutes after waking up. Avoid lazing in bed because it is even more tiring than waking up. Experts believe that cultivating such simple habits will go a long way in having a good sleep.

A midday nap is energizing for a lot of people. This is supported by traditional Chinese medicine. The yang energy of the human body is strongest at noon. Sleeping during that period can balance the yang and yin energies and thus invigorate the body.

However, napping is not recommended for people with insomnia as it may disturb their natural rhythm.

Experts reassure us that CBTI can solve 80 percent of the sleeping problems, be it sleep anxiety, imbalanced biological clock or post-traumatic stress disorder.

But patients have to brace themselves for the therapy and be determined to correct their sleeping habits.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 19

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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