New guidelines have been released that praise the effects of therapy over medication as the most beneficial treatment option for those who suffer from insomnia.
Released in their Annals of Internal Medicine, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends cognitive behavioral therapy for treating insomnia.
This method, known as CBT, is a way to condition your body to crave sleep. Following this practice can lead to a more restful, deep sleep.
CBT includes sleep restriction, where you add on an extra half an hour to your average sleep amount per night. Staying up longer will help build the body’s natural craving for sleep so that once you get in bed you will fall asleep right away.
It also will focus on sleep hygiene, the practice of forming good habits to promote a restful slumber. These include having a dark, cool bedroom, staying away from caffeine, and not eating or reading in bed before you go to sleep.
The goal is to have your brain see your bed only as a place to sleep, not for anything else.
The ACP believes that following CBT will be much more effective and carry less adverse reactions than immediately turning to insomnia medication.
They go on to report that prescription sleep medications are more successful for short term use as their long term use has not been studied in depth.
Dr. Wayne J. Riley, ACP President, explains to EurekAlert!, “Medications should ideally be used for no longer than four to five weeks while the skills learned in CBT-I can manage insomnia over the longer term. Before continuing drug therapy, doctors should consider treatable secondary causes of insomnia such as depression, pain, enlarged prostate, substance abuse disorders, and other sleep disorders like sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.”
In addition to behavioral therapy, experts recommend trying mediation to reduce insomnia symptoms. Studies showed that 75% insomniacs who mediated daily were able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed and had a better quality sleep.
Between six and 10% of Americans, the majority being women and older adults, suffer from insomnia.