Researchers suggest that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a potential solution to those suffering from chronic insomnia. The authors of a new study say that behavioural therapy is a viable treatment, however, it is not being practiced enough due to doctors having limited understanding of the process as well as there being limited availability to patients.
“There is a very effective treatment that doesn’t involve medication that should be available through your primary care service. If it’s not, it should be,” says Dr Judith Davidson, co-author of the study on CBT for insomnia – Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.
A healthier alternative to insomnia treatment
Chronic insomnia is a condition where people have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep usually more than three times a week. An estimated 10 to 15 percent of adults are thought to suffer from it. The condition is typically associated with other health problems such as depression and anxiety.
Sleeping tablets are not an appropriate answer to the problem as they can cause adverse reactions and can sometimes be addictive. CBT alters the approach and the perception that people have towards sleeping. It involves activities such as keeping away from the bed whilst awake, thinking differently about having a lack of sleep, and reducing time spent in bed.
Davidson and associates analyzed the findings from over a dozen studies previously done on the practice of CBT for insomnia. In several of the studies, medication was also used to assist participants with sleep.
The results revealed that participants went to sleep up to 30 minutes faster shortly after finishing a course of CBT for insomnia, and they spent up to 36 minutes less time staying awake after a good night’s rest. As the therapy is about training different habits, the team says it takes between four and eight sessions of CBT to experience these improvements. In contrast, those who received the standard treatment only fell asleep four minutes sooner than normal, and had only an eight minute reduction in time spent awake after sleeping.