What’s the difference between The Sleep Science Academy’s DSR Approach and CBT-I?

SSA comparison chart to CBT-I

The Sleep Science Academy approach V.S CBT-I? 

To best answer this question, let’s first explore what CBT-I is.

CBT-I is a tailored treatment plan designed to change negative thoughts and behaviors that can adversely impact a patient’s sleep hygiene to improve insomnia. CBT-I is one of the most popular ways to try to fix insomnia, as it is a natural and safe approach compared to medication.

CBT-I has five core principles.

Sleep Education

During this part of CBT-I, the patient learns what constitutes a typical sleep pattern and receives instruction on negative and positive sleep practices. Gaining a basic understanding of healthy sleep ensures that the patient has a better chance of finding success as they navigate their sleep patterns and try to change them.

Sleep Restriction

At the start of CBT-I, a patient’s therapist will encourage them to restrict the time they spend in bed. The patient should only spend time in bed when they are sleeping or actively trying to sleep instead of reading or relaxing in bed. Over time, this creates a link in the brain where the mind associates the bed with sleep.

Stimulus Control

With stimulus control, the therapist guides the patient to strengthen the association between their bed and sleep, which sleep restriction creates. This strategy limits what stimuli are in the bedroom, such as a TV or bright lights, to keep the bedroom conducive to rest and not staying in bed when awake.

Cognitive Restructuring

A CBT-I therapist will work to restructure how patients think about their sleep to create a positive thought pattern. By helping to eliminate anxiety and negative thoughts about sleep, this step ensures the patient sees sleep as something to enjoy instead of something to dread.

Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a two-step process. First, patients should create a routine they can realistically stick to for bedtime and sleep. Consistency is vital for your body to rest successfully. Second, the patient should create a relaxing, comfortable sleeping environment with little to no stimuli and a bed linked in the mind with sleep.

A CBT-I program usually lasts about 6-8 weeks. The sessions must be regular, and the patients must dedicate themselves to doing the hard work that accompanies learning new techniques and altering thoughts.

Cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia approach pros and cons

CBT-I Pro’s

  • Natural and safe approach
  • Usually covered by most insurance
  • It can be effective when delivered properly

CBT-I Con’s

  • It’s difficult to find a therapist (there is a shortage of trained CBT-I therapists), so it can take several weeks to find and get started with a therapist.
  • Sleep restriction technique used for all patients, which can be challenging for people suffering from sleep anxiety
  • Travel time to in-person office
  • The approach uses a sleep diary, which is inaccurate and ineffective
  • Takes 6-12 weeks to begin to see the results
  • No community element to connect with others working through their sleep challenges
  • One dimensional approach
  • No results guarantee
  • No money-back guarantee
  • No lifetime program access

Sleep Science Academy’s DSR approach pros and cons


  • Natural and safe approach
  • Clients can get started right away with no wait time or delays
  • The sleep restriction technique is not used for all clients
  • No travel time to in-person office as our program is done from the comfort of your home
  • We used advanced sleep tracking (a small ring worn on a finger) to harness the power of sleep data for a successful outcome vs. using a sleep diary, which is inaccurate and ineffective
  • Clients typically begin to see results in as little as 4 weeks vs 8-12 weeks
  • 1:1 sleep coaching plus weekly live group coaching to create a community element to connect with others working through their sleep challenges as a group
  • Multidimensional comprehensive approach leveraging all the most important and effective elements of CBT-I, Mindfulness, ACT, NLP and Health Coaching
  • 97% successful client recovery rate
  • 100% money-back results guarantee
  • Lifetime program access


  • Not covered by insurance (however, we do accept HSA/FSA payments)

Unlike the Sleep Science Academy, which offers a full money-back guarantee if you’re unsatisfied, CBT-I comes without such assurance.  It’s also very difficult to find a qualified CBT-I therapist as there is a shortage, and people usually have to wait several weeks to get started. Also, CBT-I programs often require in-person treatment, which adds more difficulty, whereas Sleep Science Academy’s program is done online from the comfort of your home.

The first major difference between CBT-I and Sleep Science Academy’s approach is the methodology behind how we eliminate insomnia, so let’s explore Sleep Science Academy’s (SSA) unique approach called Dynamic Sleep Recalibrating (DSR)

DSR incorporates elements of CBT-I techniques such as sleep education, stimulus control, sleep restriction (not all SSA clients do sleep restriction, see below), cognitive restructuring techniques, and sleep hygiene, as well as many other essential elements like:

  • Mindfulness
  • NLP
  • Health Coaching
  • Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Techniques

This combination creates the most comprehensive approach, with a 97% client recovery rate.

Let’s briefly explore why each element effectively eliminates insomnia and is a component of the Sleep Science Academy DSR approach.

What is mindfulness, and how does it help with sleep?

We define mindfulness as a way of being, but you can consider it a practice. The core practice is simply learning to pay attention to the present moment. This element is much easier said than done and is essential for clients to understand how to work with their thoughts and feelings, especially the negative ones.  

Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on breathing and bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. Practicing mindfulness can help people learn to master their thoughts and be able to focus on the present while remaining calm in difficult situations. 

Mindfulness helps improve sleep by creating space for clients to work with their negative sleep thoughts and create awareness of thoughts and beliefs that keep the body from sleeping. Many studies show that mindfulness practices improve sleep. Here is just one from Harvard.

What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and how does it help with sleep?

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT therapy) is a mindful psychotherapy that helps clients focus on the present moment and accept thoughts and feelings without judgment. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) operates on wholeheartedly embracing life’s experiences rather than assessing or attempting to modify them. 

It is a therapeutic approach that employs mindfulness practices to hone one’s ability to accept challenging experiences while working toward changing them. This acceptance can liberate one from persistent negative thoughts, creating more mental tranquility and promoting rest, relaxation, and sleep. 

ACT aims to help individuals reduce their attempts to control their sleep and the associated thoughts and feelings that keep them awake. 

In learning to notice and be more comfortable with insomnia, clients radically change their relationship with it and retrain their brains to sleep naturally again.

Many studies show that ACT improves sleep. Here is just one.

What is Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and how does it help with sleep?

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a technique that explores how our thought processes influence our behaviors and actions. 

Specifically, it examines how our brains decode incoming signals and the subsequent impact of these interpretations on our actions. This decoding process heavily involves language, hence the ‘linguistic’ aspect of neuro-linguistic programming. 

By studying how our brains manage information, NLP techniques empower us to view our thoughts, emotions, and feelings as elements under our control rather than passive occurrences we merely experience. NLP techniques are action-oriented. Rather than focusing on the why, as you might do in therapy, NLP focuses on the how. 

  • How can you react differently to your thoughts and emotions? 
  • How can you adapt your communication style to achieve a better outcome? 
  • How can you change your thinking so that your insomnia is happening for you, not to you? 

Many different NLP techniques, such as visioning, mirroring, and incantations and affirmations, can be very effective for helping those struggling to change their relationship with sleep and improving their rest.

What is Health Coaching, and how does it help with sleep?

Health Coaches take an integrative and holistic approach to well-being, addressing how all areas of life affect our health.

Health Coaches empower and guide their clients to better their condition by providing a safe space to explore all aspects of their well-being while creating clear action steps to improve and balance the elements of their health that need the most attention. 

Health coaching helps improve sleep because every aspect of our health is either positively or negatively affected by sleep and vice versa.  Health coaches specifically address the other very important areas that affect sleep, such as nutrition, movement, relationship, community and connection, that traditional CBT-I therapists are not trained in.

Sleep Science Academy leverages all the most important and effective elements of CBT-I, Mindfulness, ACT, NLP and Health Coaching and uses advanced sleep tracking through wearable sleep tracking technology (a small ring worn on a finger) to eliminate insomnia permanently.

The second major difference beyond the methodology is in the delivery of the program.

Traditional CBT-I programs are usually conducted 1:1 in person at a therapist’s office. Not only is driving to an office for a session inconvenient, but it also silos the work, creating a sense of doing it alone.

At Sleep Science Academy, we leverage online sleep coaching so our clients can have their 1:1 session from the comfort of their homes and offer live group coaching to leverage the power of a collective community all working to achieve the same outcome… natural sleep.

We have discovered that the community aspect of our program is essential to recovery as it broadens clients’ perspectives so that they no longer feel alone and understand that their situation is not unique because they hear other people working on and through the exact same challenges that they are experiencing.

Does Sleep Coaching Work?

In traditional CBT-I programs, therapists have their patients keep a sleep diary. Our experience at SSA indicates that maintaining a sleep diary is not only inaccurate; it’s also ineffective because it often creates clock watching, increasing hyper-arousal and sleep obsession.

The DSR methodology Is based on the premise that insomnia is not a bedtime disorder. Rather, it’s a 24-hour disorder and must be addressed as such. 

All SSA Sleep Coaches are certified holistic health coaches with deep knowledge of all aspects of wellness and understand how these elements affect sleep, such as nutrition, movement, relationships, and stress. 

SSA Sleep Coaches take an integrative and holistic approach to sleep and health, looking beyond the bed and bedroom to consider how other areas of life affect insomnia that need balancing, such as career, physical activity, and relationships.

Another significant difference between CBT-I and DSR approaches is not all clients utilize the sleep restriction technique. Our data shows that sleep restriction is only effective when a client has sleep maintenance insomnia (trouble staying asleep) and deeply understands how to self-regulate sleep anxiety.

Dynamic Sleep Recalibrating (DSR) is a comprehensive system that permanently eliminates chronic insomnia by reprograming conditioned hyper-arousal patterns through awareness exercises and nervous system de-stimulation techniques while increasing sleep drive.

Simply put, this natural remedy for insomnia retrains your mind that your bed and bedroom are a place of safety and sleep vs. stress and anxiety through psychological understanding and relaxation techniques while increasing your body’s natural drive to sleep.

Through DSR, clients learn to listen to their bodies and uncover the thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are keeping their bodies from letting sleep happen vs. attempting to force and control sleep.

Sleep Science Academy’s DSR approach is a proven, successful solution for eliminating insomnia. It is a method tried and tested by clients worldwide, providing better sleep and life-changing results.

To finally eliminate your insomnia using Sleep Science Academy’s DSR approach, click this link to schedule your free consultation today!