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New Treatment for Insomnia

Researchers at Britain’s Northumbria University have reported that nearly three-quarters of patients treated with a single hour-long session of cognitive behavioral therapy recovered from acute insomnia within three months. In fact, most participants – 60 percent of those treated –reported improvements in sleep quality within one month. Over time, acute insomnia can lead to chronic insomnia, which increases the risk of depression. The study participants included 40 adults who had been dealing with insomnia for less than three months and were not taking medication to help them sleep. The participants were divided into two groups, each made up of 9 men and 11 women. They recorded the quality and duration of their sleep for the week before treatment, and all members completed the Insomnia Severity Index, a clinical survey by which the nature, severity and impact of insomnia can be evaluated. Then, each of the participants in one group received an hour of cognitive behavior therapy and was provided a self-help pamphlet to read at home. Those in the other received no treatment. After a month, only 15 percent of those in the non-treated group reported improvement in their sleep. During the therapy session, individuals were urged to spend only the time in bed needed for sleep and, on the basis of their sleep diaries, were prescribed a specific time to go to bed and get up. This was the first time the effectiveness of using cognitive behavior therapy to treat acute insomnia has been formally studied.