Sleep Therapy

Cairnmillar's Sleep Clinic offers free or bulk-billed sleep psychology consults, conducted by student clinicians under supervision.

The sleep clinic also offers group mindfulness skills training to assist with sleep and anxiety. Mindfulness skills training takes place over 6 weeks during school terms and can be referred via a MHCP. See our Groups and Programs page here.

Sleep programs include a comprehensive sleep plan, booklet and video along with ongoing email coaching as needed.

Appointment Process

Generally, the first two (or three in some cases) appointments are booked within close succession, so that necessary background information and resources can be shared and a sleep program can be prepared.

Prior to the first appointment, clients are expected to complete some questionnaires regarding their sleep and general health. Links to these questionnaires are included in the appointment confirmation email.

Then a follow-up appointment is typically scheduled 4 to 6 weeks after the initial consultations.

Clients are encouraged to keep in touch with their sleep practitioner via email for updates and during the implementation phase.


Quality of sleep far outweighs quantity and everyone can learn what impacts this quality and therefore work on improving it. Sleep can be impacted by many things but when our minds start to focus on sleep, checking if we are sleeping enough, and why we are not sleeping, it can cause us a lot of distress and less sleep!

At a core level, sleep is a process of de-arousal on all levels – our thoughts, emotions and body. Difficulty with being able to de-arouse is the most common presentation of sleep difficulties resulting in Insomnia. Working with a psychologist who is experienced in sleep psychology looks at all factors that may impact your sleep and can help you develop a program to address your specific sleep needs.

Most of the time people who attend our Sleep psychology clinic are referred for:

  • Sleep onset insomnia (taking too long to fall asleep or difficulty feeling tired enough to go to sleep).
  • Sleep maintenance problems (frequent waking and/or difficulty falling back to sleep).
  • Light sleeping (being easily disturbed by noises or movements or not feeling as though you have had a deep sleep).
  • Waking in the early hours (some people report falling asleep easily but then waking between 3-6 am and having difficulty returning to sleep).

Sleep psychology uses evidence-based practices, looking at developing skills and strategies based on neuro-behavioural psychology, behavioural psychology, Mindfulness-Based therapy for Insomnia (MBT-i) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (CBT-i).

At our Cairnmillar Sleep Psychology Clinic, Elise Wald, our senior clinical psychologist and sleep psychology program developer talks about approaching sleep exploring 4 key areas. Elise calls these The ABCD’s of sleep:

A = Arousal

This refers to our general emotional and mental arousal or ‘alertness’ before falling asleep. Increased mental and emotional arousal can mean that we ‘over-focus’ on whether we are sleeping or not. This can make it harder to sleep. Becoming aware of this over-focus and taking steps to reduce it helps us better control our thinking when it is time to sleep.

B = Behaviour

This is where we examine your general routine or sleep hygiene habits and work to change the unhelpful parts of your routine. Good quality sleep requires setting up new habits and behaviours, which takes practice and repetition over time. When we think about changing your sleep behaviour, we also think about getting you into new habits.

C = Cognition

Cognition refers to the way that we think. Our minds are often so used to being active that they struggle to wind down when it is time to sleep. This is especially the case if something is bothering us or if we feel excited about something. Learning how to recognise how the mind is working at sleep time can help us implement new thinking and relaxation patterns. This can involve learning not to attach meaning to the experience of not sleeping and learning how to slow the mind into a relaxed state with mindfulness techniques.

D = Demystifying sleep

We often have a lot of beliefs about sleep and how it should or should not be. This can cause us to worry about what will happen if we have a bad night’s sleep. In the demystifying stage, we work to better understand our own sleep cycles as well as tackling our own sleep beliefs that might get in the way of good quality sleep. We also work on clarifying what is and is not true about not getting enough sleep.

Please refer to our Fees & Rebates page for detailed information.


Request an appointment

Once an appointment request is submitted, a clinical admin team member will contact you to commence our triage process.

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