CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia) is a psychological therapy which focuses on improving sleep issues and disorders. This includes problems with initiation and/or maintenance of sleep; waking too early in the morning and dissatisfaction with quantity or quality of sleep. CBT-I aims to address the significant distress frequently accompanied by such issues and the often accompanying impairment on daytime functioning, which may include: fatigue/low energy; cognitive impairment (poor concentration, memory, attention) and/or mood disturbances (e.g. irritability, dysphoria).

CBT-I is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) as the first-line treatment for insomnia and there is a wide evidence-base to support its effectiveness over time, including in comparison to pharmacological approaches.

The approach includes an assessment and initial use of a sleep diary to explore routine, environmental, emotional/psychological, physiological, social and occupational factors that may impact sleep. Following this, a plan with individual aims and goals is agreed upon between the therapist and client, with the client focusing on tasks between sessions to ensure approaches are achievable and can be implemented. Sleep disturbances are often associated with other mental health issues; therefore, CBT-I can also be delivered as part of a broader treatment plan to address mental health issues.


Alex Marshall