Having Trouble Sleeping? Try Therapy, Not Pills

Posted: May 3 2016, 6:28am CDT | by , Updated: May 3 2016, 10:29am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Having Trouble Sleeping? Try Therapy, Not Pills
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Study recommends cognitive behavioral therapy to treat chronic insomnia rather than sleeping pills.

Many people struggle to deal with sleep problems and taking pills may be the only solution for them. Experts now suggest that people should try psychotherapy for sleep disorders before turning to sleeping pills. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found effective to treat chronic sleep disorder insomnia. The therapy may be time-consuming, but its impact is long-lasting and it does not carry the dangerous side effects of medications.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy which was primarily intended to treat depression but now it has been applied to overcome a number of mental disorders. CBT therapy can help alter unwanted thinking and behavior.

“We know chronic insomnia is a real problem that patients present within our offices,” said Dr. Wayne Riley, president of American College of Physicians (ACP). “We want to get away from the overtendency to prescribe sleep medications and clearly CBT can be a very nice tool in the toolkit.”

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty in falling asleep. Nearly 10% of U.S. adult population suffers from chronic insomnia and it is most common in women and older adults. The disorder leads to either insufficient or no sleep which in turn results in fatigue, poor cognitive function and mood disturbance and disrupts productivity at workplace.

“We looked at 10 years of very strong research studies that looked at the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy and other interventions in terms of improving sleep for patients who have chronic insomnia. The evidence is quite strong that cognitive behavioral therapy is effective. It works. It’s long lasting and it has the potential to decrease cost to the health care system.” Dr. Riley told NBC News.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved many drugs to deal with insomnia but they may expose people to certain types of risks. The risks may include drowsiness, car crash, eating while sleep and allergic reactions.

“Americans do tend to be over medicated for sleep. That’s why there’s a significant cost to the healthcare system. But also the potential side effects of sleep medications are underestimated,” said Riley.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy will give you the tools and the techniques and little tricks of sort of say between 5 and 8 pm I’m going to have all my worries on the table here…I’m going to relax and release and think about a nice beach scene somewhere or something that will put me in the mood that will be more conductive for sleep.”

Researchers suggest that sleep medications are only effective as long as people take them and obviously these medications are not for permanent use. Therapy, on the other hand, can teach you tips and tricks that can last a lifetime.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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