Insomnia is a common sleep disorder among adults: it is estimated that 6-10% of Canadian adults have symptoms that meet the criteria for insomnia-related disorders1. When insomnia becomes chronic, it can have serious consequences for the physical and mental health of individuals.

Some drug treatments exist, but this condition sometimes requires testing more advanced methods. Read our article to find out more about insomnia and discover cognitive-behavioural therapy as an effective treatment.

What is chronic insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterised by persistent difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early and not being able to go back to sleep. We talk about chronic insomnia when these problems occur more than three times a week and for more than three months.

chronic insomnia difficulty falling asleep

What causes insomnia?

Chronic insomnia can be caused by a number of factors, the most common of which are the following:

  • Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, the mental burden of work, relationships or family, depression and other mental disorders can be the source of recurrent negative thoughts that prevent you from sleeping well. Psychological factors account for the majority of causes of insomnia.
  • Medical factors: Chronic pain, respiratory disorders (such as sleep apnea), gastrointestinal problems and neurological diseases (such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) can cause sleep disorders. In women, hormonal disturbances caused by pregnancy and the menopause have a negative influence on sleep.
  • Environmental factors: Noise, light and uncomfortable temperatures are known to disrupt the circadian rhythm.
  • Lifestyle habits: Excessive consumption of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, screens and poor sleeping habits (irregular bedtimes, long naps, etc.) can affect sleep quality.

Identifying the specific cause(s) of your insomnia is essential to finding the most appropriate treatment and improving the quality of your sleep. The causes of insomnia are unique to each person, so talk to a healthcare professional.

How is insomnia diagnosed?

To diagnose insomnia, it is important not to self-diagnose but to consult a healthcare professional. A family doctor or sleep disorders specialist will assess your medical history, symptoms and lifestyle habits. He or she may also use tools such as a sleep diary or specialised tests to understand the cause of your insomnia. Only an accurate diagnosis can recommend the right treatment to improve your quality of sleep and your general well-being.

Consultation with a family doctor is the first step, where initial treatments such as medication, sleeping pills or natural relaxing remedies may be prescribed. If necessary, the doctor can refer you to a sleep clinic for more advanced treatment, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy: an effective treatment for insomnia

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a psychological intervention that aims to change the thoughts and behaviours that are problematic for the patient’s health. CBT can be used to resolve a wide range of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, addictions, etc.

In the context of insomnia, this therapy is used to understand and resolve patients’ sleep difficulties. It has been scientifically proven2 that cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is the most effective and long-lasting therapeutic intervention modality for the treatment of insomnia, ahead of drug treatments such as sleeping pills.

CBT-I is generally carried out by a neuropsychologist or psychologist in a clinic specialising in sleep disorders. This service is not covered by the RAMQ but may be reimbursed by some private insurers.

medical consultation for insomnia and sleep disorders

Montreal Sleep Clinic

Consulting a sleep clinic allows you to benefit from a thorough and specialised assessment of your insomnia, often including methods for precisely identifying the underlying causes of the condition. You can also receive personalised treatments administered by healthcare professionals specialising in sleep disorders.

The Neurotherapy Montreal mental health clinic (ELNA Medical Group) offers a wide range of services to treat sleep disorders, including individual and group CBT-I.

Individual cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)

Individual psychotherapy combines theoretical elements and practical exercises to teach patients how to consolidate regular, quality sleep. It focuses on the chronobiological, psychological and behavioural factors involved in maintaining insomnia, and helps to define an individualised sleep reorganisation plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

In-group cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I)

The group CBT-I program covers the same topics as individual therapy, but has a number of advantages. It enables participants to :

  • Share and enrich their experience of insomnia, help each other and get support from their peers, and benefit from a dynamic and collaborative environment to adopt healthier sleep habits.
  • Accelerate the effectiveness of treatment by encouraging their motivation to change and achieving results more quickly.
  • Benefit from a proven, structured programme that makes it easier to monitor their progress and guides them step by step towards remission.

The program can accommodate up to 8 participants. It includes 6 group sessions and 2 individual sessions spread over a period of 3 months. Contact Neurotherapy Montreal to find out when the next programme dates are!

Book a free consultation by phone with a professional!

Neurothérapie logo

We understand how frustrating and exhausting sleep disorders can be. Neurotherapy Montreal, an ELNA Medical Group clinic, helps patients overcome insomnia and return to peaceful, restorative nights.

Sources | 1: Canada Statistics – Prevalence of insomnia for Canadians | 2: National Library of Medicine – Cognitive-behavior therapy