Sleep science

Why meditation apps won’t help your sleep problem (and what will)

Over the past few years we’ve seen a real explosion of the whole mindfulness and meditation app space.

While these apps have been helping millions of people relax and unwind, the promise that they help people sleep is contentious to say the least. Especially when it comes to people experiencing sleep problems.

“The top 10 Apps to help you sleep”, “8 mobile apps for insomniacs” or “Best Insomnia Apps of 2019”. There’s a whole industry of tools and advice out there telling you how all you need to do is ‘relax’ or ‘wind down’ correctly, and you will be able to sleep. 

Apps, videos, podcasts, blogs, therapists and doctors all telling you how to treat your sleep problem.

Have a warm bath, use lavender, listen to a guided hypnosis or relaxation app, become more ‘zen like’. And therefore sleep. 

Feeling inadequate

Let me ask then: how did it make you feel when it didn’t work?

Because sadly, there is no evidence that relaxation can lead to sleep… Yup.

You’re not alone. Most people with sleep problems know these things don’t work. Because they’ve already tried them all. 

But sadly, instead of realising that it is the industry that is at fault, we end up blaming ourselves.

And this has consequences…

  • It’s easy to feel completely inadequate when an entire culture believes it’s easy to sleep, and that all you have to do is relax.
  • It starts to make you feel unique in your problem and not in a good way. 
  • It isolates you from your friends and family, and then the loneliness sets in. That crippling feeling of having no control and being utterly alone. 

What’s more, doctors provide no reassurance or validation for your condition… Often just blaming depression or anxiety. 

Even though you’re desperately trying to tell them that this is not the case. 

So, why doesn’t relaxation lead to sleep? 

Well simply, relaxation can only help you to relax.  Which is a completely different state to sleep. 

Yes, being relaxed can facilitate sleep, but only if sleep is ready to come… This is the most important thing I could possibly tell you!

The ONLY thing that leads to sleep is being awake

Yep, that thing we fear so much. That perpetual awakeness, is actually what can help. 

IF we could just let go of our anxieties around it (and be taught to use it properly). 

That’s because sleep is a drive state. With sleep, the more time you spend awake, the more you are growing your ‘sleep drive’, and the longer you spend asleep the more you are building your ‘wake drive’. 

Sleep will always come after wake. No matter what we have taught ourselves to believe. 

Re-teaching your brain to sleep

Ever notice how, even when you don’t get ANY sleep at all, you can’t actually sustain that for long periods of time? 

You might never have noticed, as the panic of being awake too long sets in. 

Sure, when you do get some sleep it might not be the long deep stretch you were expecting. But that’s just a matter of teaching you how to use your sleep drive to regulate your sleep again. Effectively, re-teaching your brain how to sleep.

“Insomnia is rarely sleep deprivation”

The other thing to understand is that insomnia is rarely sleep deprivation

Most people with insomnia or significant sleep problems believe that they are suffering from sleep deprivation. 

And then the media starts reminding you of what sleep deprivation does and it’s enough to send anyone over the edge! 

But this simply can’t be the case. We know this because the first thing your body will do if you are sleep deprived is try to make you sleep. That’s before you get sick or die… 

You would literally have to force yourself to stay awake. 

Most people with sleep problems are not doing this to themselves. They are very rarely sleepy and would do anything to feel sleepy tired!

Most people with insomnia are suffering from something awfully insidious…fatigue. Its effects are far reaching but unfortunately, do not lead to sleep. 

So, what does work?

If you want to understand how to fix your sleep, you will need to learn how to build a strong sleep drive as well as re-teaching yourself how to regulate your sleep.

No relaxation, mindfulness or meditation app will help you do this. There are no quick and easy natural cures

It’s all about addressing the cycles of thoughts, of feelings and behaviours that are that the underlying causes of your sleep problems. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is the treatment that will help you overcome your sleep issue for good by addressing the very heart of the problem


CBT for Insomnia which is not to be confused with CBT for anxiety or depression is a treatment that has been proven to be effective for treating insomnia in numerous studies and trials

Of course, this treatment isn’t without shortcomings: 

  • There are very few truly specialised practitioners. 

I am seeing all kinds of psychologists and other non-sleep specialists offering some forms of “CBT-I styled” treatment without the clinical expertise.

  • It can be costly

The very low number of true specialists means treatment can feel expensive for many.

However, if you are suffering from chronic insomnia. If you’ve tried everything imaginable, and you are ready to put an end to your depilating sleep problem naturally.

Then CBTI-I is the solution for you.