A new study shows that cognitive behavioural therapy, a kind of talk therapy, can be a big help for people seeking to overcome insomnia.
The study, which was recently published in the June issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, involved an examination of data associated with 20 previous studies involving just under 1,200 adults suffering from chronic insomnia. The participants, whose average age was 56, had no medical or psychiatric issues that might have contributed to their sleep problems.
Those behind this most recent study found that cognitive behavioural therapy (or CBT) treatments varied in nature, but all essentially involved the same basic elements, including sleep hygiene, sleep restriction, and relaxation. The data show that people who underwent CBT fell asleep faster, slept longer, and spent less time tossing and turning during the night than people who underwent alternative treatments. In addition, CBT did not result in any serious side effects—something that can’t be said for many sleeping pills, such as hypnotic and antipsychotic medications.
Of course, there’s still more to be done. None of the studies examined showed how CBT affected participants’ daytime activity or their overall quality of life. It’s also not clear how CBT might affect the sleep patterns of people struggling with medical or psychiatric disorders.
But one thing’s for certain: there’s a serious demand for help overcoming insomnia. It’s currently estimated that between 10- and 15- percent of all Americans regularly deal with the issue, which can leave people groggy, inattentive, and easily distracted during waking hours.