NEW YORK (WABC) --One out of four people report having trouble sleeping, and many pop a sleeping pill to help get some much-needed Z's. But most of those drugs can come with side effects, and a Consumer Reports analysis found that they don't work all that well.
New research points to a better solution, one with no side effects.
Bridgette Brawner knows the distress that comes with insomnia.
"I was going on over a year of not being able to sleep," she said. "It wears on your body, your mind, and your relationships."
If your doctor rules out medical problems as the cause, Consumer Reports recommends working with a behavioral therapist for insomnia. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to improve the amount of sleep you get and the actual quality of your sleep.
Patients keep a sleep diary, along with rating sleep and how they feel the next day. A therapist then reviews that information and suggests strategies to improve the amount and quality of sleep.
"You started off taking an average of 40 minutes to fall asleep," Dr. James Findley said. "That went down to 10 almost immediately."
The therapist will also help to change daily routines to set the body's wake-sleep cycle.
"A lot of our job is to make it absolutely crystal clear to the brain, now is the time to be asleep," Dr. Findley said.
Professional CBT insomnia treatment requires roughly two months of weekly sessions and is usually covered by insurance.
For Brawner, the time and effort were worth it.
"To go though insomnia CBT and to have it actually work, I feel renewed," she said. "I feel like myself again."
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says this therapy can significantly improve overall well-being and quality of life.
You can find a cognitive behavioral therapist in your area at BehavioralSleep.org.