"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Cognitive behavioral therapy offers a drug-free approach to managing insomnia.

Bleary-eyed insomniacs are well aware that sleep problems should not limited to the nighttime hours. In fact, individuals who have trouble falling or staying asleep often feel worse throughout the day.

Many individuals with insomnia turn to sleeping pills, which frequently have unwanted unintended effects. Few of them learn about equally effective treatments that concentrate on the underlying reason for insomnia without drugs. Called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-i, this short-term talk therapy teaches people to vary unproductive thought patterns and habits that get in the way in which of night's sleep. While this therapy can't “cure” insomnia, it will possibly offer you tools to raised manage it.

In a ___ Review this week's article. History of Internal Medicine, Researchers combined data from 20 different trials of CBT-i involving greater than 1,100 individuals with chronic insomnia. On average, people treated with CBT-i fell asleep about 20 minutes faster and spent half-hour less awake throughout the night than individuals who didn’t receive CBT-i.

These improvements are nearly as good as, or higher than, those seen in individuals who take prescription sleep medications similar to zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta). And unlike medication, the consequences of CBT-i persist long after therapy ends — no less than six months, in accordance with one study.

Learning to sleep

What does CBT-i involve? Typically, you see a therapist once per week for an hour, for six to eight weeks. You'll complete a sleep diary and learn strategies to assist change your sleep patterns.

A typical suggestion from CBT-i is to get away from bed and do something relaxing when you can't go to sleep inside about 20 minutes of coming in. The idea is to associate your bed with comfort and rest, not frustration and anxiety.

Learning rest techniques similar to mindfulness meditation (which itself can improve insomnia, as I described in an earlier post) is one other essential a part of CBT-i. Being in a position to cultivate peace of mind is particularly helpful for insomniacs because, as Dr. Amira explains, “Sleep is one among the few things in life that the more you’re employed at it, the simpler it’s. It becomes harder than ever.”

Most medical health insurance plans cover CBT-i, which falls under mental health coverage. There's only one problem: Many therapists aren't trained on this specific sort of talk therapy. Even within the medical mecca of Boston, only five therapists offer CBT-i.

You can find lists of certified specialists nationwide. American Board of Sleep Medicine And Society for Behavioral Sleep Medicine. If face-to-face therapy isn't an option, you should buy an internet version of the technique. The best-studied program is known as Healthy Sleep Using the Internet, or SHUTi (www.shuti.me). Oh A government-funded study examines SHUTi's effectiveness. Among individuals with insomnia — including those with other medical conditions — is currently within the works.