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Cognitive behavior therapy helps those with chronic insomnia: study

FRIDAY, June 12 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitive behavioral therapy can benefit people with chronic insomnia, according to a U.S. study.

Researchers studied data from 115 patients, ages 14 to 81, with chronic onset insomnia, sleep maintenance insomnia or both. After undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which meant learning to identify thoughts and patterns that interfere with sleep, between 50 percent and 60 percent of the patients experienced remission of their primary sleep difficulty.

The 64 patients who completed at least five treatment sessions showed significant improvement on all measures, including sleep efficiency, average nightly awakenings, total sleep time and average number of nights a week that they used sleep medication.

The findings indicate that CBT-I can be an effective form of treatment for patients with chronic insomnia, even when anxiety and depression are involved, said study lead author Ryan Wetzler of Sleep Medicine Specialists in Louisville, Ky.

"CBT-I teaches strategies to 'reset' the bodily systems that regulate sleep. Since these systems also play a role in regulation of mood, pain and other bodily processes, skills developed through CBT-I may also have a positive impact on mood, anxiety, pain and other associated medical or psychiatric conditions," Wetzler said in a news release.

Specific strategies included education on sleep-regulating systems, sleep-scheduling guidelines, stimulus control therapy and relaxation training.

The study was to be presented this week at SLEEP, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in Seattle.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about insomnia.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 9, 2009

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