Behavior therapy to fight sleeplessness

May 19, 2009 3:15:12 PM PDT
Trying to get a good night's sleep could become a serious problem. Sufferers know that chronic insomnia can have a major impact on their life.

To cope with sleep problems, many people use sleep medications, but they can have side effects, or become ineffective after a time.

A new study took a close look at a treatment called cognitive behavioral therapy (CPT).

Officials say 160 patients enrolled in a research study run by Dr. Charles Morin of the Universite Laval in Quebec, Canada.

"Some people can have trouble falling asleep at bedtime," Dr. Morin said. "Others have problems with maintaining sleep and still other people just wake up in the morning and they complain of not feeling refreshed."

The patients in the study were treated with either cognitive behavioral therapy alone, or in combination with a sleep medication.

CBT called for patient to do many of the following:

  • To avoid unrealistic sleep expectations
  • To restrict their time in bed
  • To get up at the same time daily

    Changes in their sleep habits were measured with periodic sleep lab assessment, as well as with self-reported sleep diaries.

    At first, the combination pill and therapy group did better.

    But after six months, the group who experienced CBT alone had a more successful response.

    The study evaluated only three behavioral strategies, but it is plausible that other treatment plans might make CBT even more effective.

    One doctor includes sunlight exposure as a form of treatment.

    People sometimes don't see doctors for their sleep problems, so this study should tell more people there are successful options to explore.

    Web Produced by Ilene Rosen


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