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Insomnia Therapy

June 12, 2015

For people who can’t sleep, cognitive behavioral therapy could be an effective alternative to drugs.



Drug-free insomnia treatment. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Insomnia afflicts fifteen percent of all adults, and is usually treated with drugs like Ambien – even though sleep meds have many side effects. In the Annals of Internal Medicine, sleep and respiratory physicians James Trauer and David Cunningham, at the Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre in Australia, report that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, is an effective alternative.

JAMES TRAUER (Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre):

We found that Cognitive Behavorial Therapy for insomnia decreases the length of time patients take to get off to sleep by about twenty minutes, decreases the amount of time they spend awake in bed after they’ve got off to sleep by nearly a half an hour, and improves the proportion of time that they spend asleep when they’re in bed by about ten percent.


CBT is a short-term, problem-focused therapy. The new research may spur practitioners to consider this option, before trying drugs. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.