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 skills from ACT to deal with insomnia. Significant help can also be achieved for individuals with coexisting health conditions.

How ACT helps insomnia

Identify why you sleep badly

ACT develops your awareness of the behaviours, thoughts and feelings that affect your sleep. This doesn’t entail delving into other personal problems and the focus is on helping you to take the right action going forward to help insomnia. 

Recognise what isn’t helping you

People struggling with sleep will often try many things to help which don’t work and so can make someone feel more anxious and frustrated. ACT helps you to recognise what isn’t serving you and to restore sleep to a natural effortless process.

Manage a troubling mind

ACT teaches you skills on how to better manage the negative thoughts, feelings and emotions that may be affecting your sleep. To do this you’ll learn simple straightforward tools that you can use for life. 

Commit to your values in life

Insomnia can hold people back in life and stop them from doing what they value most. ACT equips you with strategies to help you shift your focus away from insomnia and towards doing more of what’s important to you. 

The ACT Hexaflex

The Hexaflex diagram below encapsulates the principles of how ACT addresses insomnia and helps you to deal with the thoughts and feelings perpetuating the issue.

It’s normal to be a bit unsure about what the principles mean or think that they seem a bit complicated and might not be for you. However, rest assured that through coaching they’ll become both simple and straightforward to apply. It’s also natural to be a bit skeptical about something a bit different, but perhaps you’re willing to have a go at ACT despite any doubts. 

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

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

Typical advice for sleep usually fails to help those dealing with insomnia and so ACT offers something different. 

About meditating

ACT is a flexible approach that helps people in many different ways and a meditation practice isn’t typically involved. 

About your past

Whilst it can be helpful to understand why insomnia started, ACT focuses on how to help insomnia in the present. 

A miracle cure

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

A complicated method

ACT is accesible to everyone and isn’t about following any strict rules or understanding any complex theory. 

Only for insomnia

Whilst ACT is an effective solution for chronic insomnia, it’s also very helpful 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:

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