Sleep Psychology 
Formal Specialty Definition:


Sleep Psychology, also known as Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) is an expanding area of the sleep field that focuses on the evaluation and treatment of sleep disorders by addressing behavioral, psychological, and physiological factors that interfere with sleep.

Behavioral sleep specialists use a variety of evidenced-based therapies to treat sleep problems. Many behavioral sleep interventions are based on a combination of cognitive and behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been shown to successfully treat a variety of sleep disorders, especially insomnia.  When CBT is adapted for use in insomnia, it is often referred to as CBT-I.  The behavioral aspect of CBT for sleep disorders focuses on eliminating habits, behaviors and environmental disruptions that stand prevent quality rest. The focus is on systematically introducing behavioral changes to improve sleep. This could include changes in sleep schedule and changes in the reinforcers that promote sleep. The cognitive approach focuses on looking internally to examine, manage, or modify thoughts and beliefs about sleep that can interfere with sleep. Most CBT therapies for sleep disorders are brief, involving an evaluation and a limited number of treatment visits.

In some cases,  behavioral treatment strategies involve device-based treatments such as bright light or blue blocking glasses to impact sleep onset or to shift circadian rhythms.    Behavioral Sleep Medicine typically does not involve the use of medications.  However medications may be used short-term in conjunction with behavioral treatments to help patients engage in behavioral therapy if they simultaneously are have difficulty tolerating medical treatments such as  positive airway pressure therapy for sleep apnea.

The Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicine aims to make CBT and related treatments for sleep disorders a standard of comprehensive care.


Sleep Psychology ByLaws


Levels of Specialty Training: 


Accreditation by the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine (SBSM) is offered to Behavioral Sleep Medicine (BSM) training programs that promote excellence in the preparation of pre-doctoral, doctoral, internship/residency, and postdoctoral trainees who enter the professional practice of behavioral sleep medicine.  Programs must offer at least 1,000 hours of supervised clinical training in behavioral sleep medicine, or 500 hours in behavioral sleep medicine and 500 hours in general behavioral medicine, in addition to meeting other training and educational requirements.


Specialty Board Certification: 


Certification is available through the Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine, which is the Specialty Board for certification in Sleep Psychology, more specifically, the scope of Behavioral Sleep Medicine.


Sources of Specialty Recognition: 


  1. APA/CRSPPP recognition

Sleep Psychology Specialty Council Membership:


  • TBA

Related Non-Psychology Groups: 


  • TBA

Specialty Related Web Links: 


Education and Training Guidelines: 




Don Townsend, PhD, LP, CBSM