A recent article in the Louisville Courier-Journal reminded readers that medications aren’t the only insomnia treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for people who are struggling with ongoing insomnia.
CBT uses a variety of methods to help you develop positive attitudes and habits that promote a healthy pattern of sleep. One common technique is relaxation training.
“We teach people how to sleep again,” sleep specialist Ryan Wetzler told the Courier-Journal. He has a doctorate in psychology and is certified by the AASM in behavioral sleep medicine. “We want to just figure out why somebody is not sleeping and get them sleeping again as soon as possible.”
Wetzler recently led a study of 115 people with insomnia; he presented a study abstract in June at SLEEP 2009. Results show that CBT is effective in a “real world” clinical setting.
“We saw complete remission of their primary symptom in 50-60 percent of people,” said Wetzler.
People who had trouble going to sleep benefited from CBT; they were able to fall asleep 58 minutes faster after at least two treatment sessions. CBT also helped people who had trouble staying asleep; the time they were awake during the night decreased by 30 minutes.
Sixty-four people completed five or more CBT sessions. They woke up fewer times during the night; their total sleep time also increased.
In July the Sleep Education Blog reported that online CBT programs also may be effective. They make the treatment available to anyone with Internet access. But some people may fail to follow through with online treatment.
Get help for insomnia at an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center near you.
Image by Justin Silles