Dr David Lee BSc PhD CertEd CPsychol AFBPsS CSci
Founder and Clinical Director of Sleep Unlimited Ltd
Sleep problems are ubiquitous in society, doubling over the last year as a result of living under lockdown conditions, cognitive behavioural therapy could be able to help those living with insomnia.
Struggling to find a work-life balance has become an increasing challenge for many, with the ability to ‘leave work at work’ being diminished. Many people have been forced to take their work into their home, with many even bringing work into their bedrooms.
There has been an obvious increase in anxiety over the last year, with increases in worry about health, work, finances and home-schooling. There has also been a reported increase in alcohol consumption, with 25% of adults in the UK admitting to drinking more since March 2020. Collectively, these societal and individual changes have caused this doubling of sleep problems.
Cost of insomnia on society
Insomnia was reported to cost the UK £35.5billion-, amounting to 1.86% of our GPD by the RAND Institute in 2016. Inevitably these costs are set to increase and potentially double based on the population experience reported above.
The NHS recommend Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (CBTi) as the treatment pathway of choice to manage sleep problems, as there is a wealth of scientific evidence for its effectiveness, going back over 40+ years.
Several well-respected reviews in the late 1990s and early 2000s indicate a level of effectiveness of CBTi at 70%. This is a fantastic ‘hit rate’ with seven in 10 people with a sleep problem being ‘cured’ after a relatively short (typically six, one-hour, weekly sessions) intervention period of CBTi.
Insomnia was reported to cost the UK £35.5billion-, amounting to 1.86% of our GPD by the RAND Institute in 2016.
So, we have a large population of people in need of help with their sleep and an effective intervention in the form of CBT for insomnia, where then is the problem?
The issue that we face at the present time is an extreme paucity of suitably qualified and experienced health professionals to deliver evidence-based behavioural sleep medicine in the form of NHS approved and recommended CBTi.
Bridging the gap
In order to overcome the significant issue of sleep problems to us as a society, both at a population and at an individual level, we need to bridge the gap between the needs of the many and the effective intervention of CBT for insomnia. We can do this by training more health professionals in Behavioural Sleep Medicine and raising awareness and access to CBTi for the people that need it.