Article from the Guardian re benefits of CBT for insomnia

Forget counting sheep and drinking warm milk, an effective way to tackle chronic insomnia is cognitive behavioural therapy, researchers have confirmed.

The authors of a new study say that although the therapy is effective, it is not being used widely enough, with doctors having limited knowledge about it and patients lacking access.

“There is a very effective treatment that doesn’t involve medication that should be available through your primary care service. If it’s not, it should be,” said Dr Judith Davidson, co-author of a new study on CBT for insomnia from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.

Gallery: It’s Time To Cure Your Insomnia Once and For All (Men’s Health)

a man lying on a bed: Everyone has one or two nights where they just can't manage to get much sleep. But if you have insomnia, being unable to sleep isn't an occasional struggle - it's a constant battle. "Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, or waking up too early that results in daytime dysfunction (fatigued, tired, trouble focusing), and occurs 3 nights a week for 3 months to be considered chronic," says Vikas Jain, MD, sleep medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. According to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, approximately one in four Americans develop insomnia each year. The most common causes of insomnia are anxiety, stress and poor sleep habits. "Chronic insomnia affects roughly 6-7% of men between 20-40," says Hrayr Attarian, MD, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Often, guys will take sleeping pills to try to combat insomnia. But pills shouldn't be your first line of defense. Try one of these sleep tips to beat your insomnia. Get rid of the TV in your bedroom.Sounds like a bummer, but if you want better sleep, you better do it."Having a TV in the bedroom is a no-no for people with insomnia," says Dr. Attarian. "It’s stimulating, from the noise to the light it emits."And research backs him up.A 2017 study publishe din the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (http://jcsm.aasm.org/viewabstract.aspx?pid=31062) found that watching TV before bed and binge-watching led to more cognitive arousal that resulted in poorer sleep and insomnia.

Chronic insomnia, in which individuals have difficulties dropping off or staying asleep at least three nights a week for three months or more, is thought to affect about 10-15% of adults. The condition is linked to health problems including depression, as well as difficulties in functioning and sometimes resulting in accidents.

Sleeping pills are not recommended for long-term use and can have side-effects, as well as posing a risk of addiction. Instead, the main treatment for chronic insomnia is CBT – a programme of changes to the way an individual approaches and thinks about sleep. These include staying away from the bed when awake, challenging attitudes about sleep loss and restricting the number of hours spent in bed.

Writing in the British Journal of General Practice, Davidson and colleagues report how they examined the results from 13 previously conducted studies on the provision of CBT for insomnia through primary care. In some studies, participants were also taking medication to help them sleep.

The results showed CBT for insomnia was effective and led to improvements in sleep that lasted during a follow-up many months later.

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