Acceptance & Commitment Therapy For Insomnia

Advice right for you

I provide tailored guidance using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy to address insomnia and help you to overcome it and prevent it from negatively impacting your life.

An effective method

Acquire tools from ACT to help you manage difficult thoughts and feelings disrupting your sleep. ACT facilitates natural sleep without the need for sleep aids, rigid rules or sleeping pills. 

Swift long lasting improvements

Through minimal consultations, you’ll gain lifelong insights from ACT to prevent insomnia. Significant progress can also be achieved for individuals with coexisting health conditions.

How ACT helps insomnia

Identify why you sleep badly


Develop awareness of the behaviours, thought processes and feelings affecting your sleep. This doesn’t mean analysing or delving into personal problems or life stressors. My only focus is on helping you take the right action going forward to sleep better.

Recognise unhelpful strategies


People struggling with sleep typically try various things to help. Most of which fail and thus intensify feelings of anxiety and frustration, making the issue persist. ACT helps you to recognise what isn’t serving you and restore sleep to a natural effortless process.

Manage a troubling mind


ACT teaches you how to better manage the negative thoughts, feelings and emotions that may be affecting your sleep. To do this you’ll learn simple straightforward powerful tools rooted in mindfulness, CBT and self-compassion. 

Commit to your values in life


Sleep issues can hold people back in life and stop them from doing the things they value most. ACT equips you with strategies to prioritise your life’s values over sleep problems and shift your focus away from worrying or fixating over sleep and towards doing what’s important to you. 

The ACT Hexaflex

ACT focuses on addressing the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that affect your sleep at night. The essential principles of ACT are encapsulated in the Hexaflex diagram, illustrating how ACT helps overcome insomnia. If your uncertain about what these principles entail, rest assured they’re both simple and straightforward to apply.

ACT Hexaflex with "Values," "Present Moment," "Acceptance," "Defusion," "Observing Self" and "Committed Action" principles.

The ACT Choice Point

The choice point is a tool that’s used for many purposes in ACT, including to help explain how it works and can help your sleep.

The choice point model for how ACT can help insomnia. Getting 'hooked' and 'unhooked' from difficult thoughts and feelings.
YouTube video

Read more about how ACT can help your sleep

People often seek quick solutions for sleep issues – avoiding caffeine, sleeping pills, relaxation methods, exercising more or following strict routines. It’s human nature to want instant fixes for when sleep becomes difficult. 

The primary reason many people struggle with sleep is their restless, anxious minds. Continuous stress, frustration and worry prevent relaxing at night and therefore sleep. Most of those dealing with sleep issues believe that if they could just fully relax, they would sleep well. Regrettably, there’s no simple quick solution for this.

Some attribute their sleep problems to negative life events, like work stress or personal difficulties. While these issues certainly don’t help sleep, they shouldn’t mean you have to struggle with it. A completely stress-free life is unattainable, so it’s essential to learn how to sleep well despite life’s inevitable anxieties.

ACT helps you to manage negative thoughts and feelings at night, reducing their effect on sleep quality. Using ACT’s tools and principles is simpler than it seems, without the need to delve into personal problems, make lifestyle changes or suppress unwanted emotions.

ACT encourages acceptance of stress and anxiety, thereby diminishing their influence over us. By not resisting negative thoughts and emotions, we convey to our brains that they pose no threat. This approach enables us to feel more at ease at night even with persistent negative thoughts. By becoming comfortable with these emotions in bed, we relax and sleep becomes more accessible.

What ACT is not

Sleep hygiene advice

Standard advice and suggestions for improved sleep usually fail to help those grappling with sleep difficulties.

Lifestyle changes

Your lifestyle choices are entirely yours, and it’s unnecessary to be the world’s healthiest individual to achieve quality sleep.

About personal issues

ACT only focuses on improving your sleep, without needing to get to the bottom of your problems in life in order to sleep well.

A miracle cure

Everyone is different and so there’s no guarantee that any one approach will work for everyone.

A complicated method

It isn’t about delving in to your past, scrutinising your life choices, mastering meditation or following strict routines.

Only for insomnia

Whilst ACT is an effective solution for chronic insomnia, it also works wonderfully for those with milder sleep problems.

ACT is an effective solution for insomnia

Endorsed by the UK & US governing health authorities – NICE (UK) and HHS (US)

  • Clinically validated
  • No side effects
  • Evidence based
  • Drug free approach
  • Long lasting results
  • Effective with coexisting mental health and chronic pain issues
  • Proven efficacy
  • Benefits to wellbeing beyond better sleep

Scientific evidence for ACT?

There are over 900 randomised control trials and over 300 systematic reviews showing that ACT is effective at helping a wide range of mental and physical health conditions, such as chronic insomnia, depression, anxiety, work stress and chronic pain. 

The list below contains some of the key scientific papers that have been published to support the effectiveness of using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) to improve sleep. 

Lund, L. (2005). The Role of  Acceptance and Mindfulness in the Treatment of Insomnia. 

Pelkonen, S., & Puha, N. (2013). Acceptance and commitment group therapy for treatment of insomnia.

Salari, N., Khazaie, H., Hosseinian-Far, A., Khaledi-Paveh, B., Ghasemi, H., Mohammadi, M., & Shohaimi, S. (2020). The effect of acceptance and commitment therapy on insomnia and sleep quality: A systematic review. BMC neurology, 20(1), 1-18.

Dalrymple, K. L., Fiorentino, L., Politi, M. C., & Posner, D. (2010). Incorporating principles from acceptance and commitment therapy into cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia: A case example. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 40(4), 209-217.

Torre, J. B., & Lieberman, M. D. (2018). Putting feelings into words: Affect labeling as implicit emotion regulation. Emotion Review, 10(2), 116-124.

Hertenstein, E., Thiel, N., Lüking, M., Külz, A. K., Schramm, E., Baglioni, C., … & Nissen, C. (2014). Quality of life improvements after acceptance and commitment therapy in nonresponders to cognitive behavioral therapy for primary insomnia. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 83(6), 371-373.

Päivi, L., Sitwat, L., Harri, O. K., Joona, M., & Raimo, L. (2019). ACT for sleep-internet-delivered self-help ACT for sub-clinical and clinical insomnia: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 12, 119-127.

Garland, S. N., Zhou, E. S., Gonzalez, B. D., & Rodriguez, N. (2016). The quest for mindful sleep: a critical synthesis of the impact of mindfulness-based interventions for insomnia. Current sleep medicine reports, 2(3), 142-151

Ivany, M. M. (2018). Awareness and commitment training for workers with chronic demands: taking ACTion towards improved sleep and wellbeing.

Hoffmann, D., Rask, C. U., Hedman-Lagerlöf, E., Ljótsson, B., & Frostholm, L. (2018). Development and feasibility testing of internet-delivered acceptance and commitment therapy for severe health anxiety: pilot study. JMIR mental health, 5(2), e28.

Zetterqvist, V., Grudin, R., Rickardsson, J., Wicksell, R. K., & Holmström, L. (2018). Acceptance-based behavioural treatment for insomnia in chronic pain: A clinical pilot study. Journal of contextual behavioral science, 9, 72-79.

If you would like to access more evidence it can be found here:

https://contextualscience.org/state_of_the_act_evidence

Discover more about ACT for insomnia by completing my free online course