CBT-I (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia) is proven to be the most effective first-line treatment for chronic insomnia. It improves sleep in 75-80% of insomnia patients and reduces or eliminates sleeping pill use in 90% of patients. And, in three major studies that directly compared CBT-I to sleeping pills, CBT-I was more effective than sleeping pills. CBT-I also has no side effects and maintains improvements in sleep long-term, and new research shows that CBT-I doubles the improvement rates of depression compared to antidepressant medication alone in depressed patients with insomnia. It also reduces pain, fibromyalgia, substance abuse, and PTSD in insomnia patients with these co-morbid health problems.
In contrast to CBT-I, sleeping pills do not greatly improve sleep. Objectively, newer-generation sleeping pills such as Ambien are no more effective than a placebo. Subjectively, sleeping pills only increase total sleep time, and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, by about 10 minutes . Furthermore, these small to moderate short-term improvements in sleep are often outweighed by significant side effects, particularly in adults age 60+. These side effects include impaired learning and memory, daytime sedation, dependency, and increased risk of overdose and depression as well as traumatic brain injury and dementia in the elderly.Research also suggests that sleeping pills and drugs of abuse share the same neurobiological pathway involved in addiction.
As a result, CBT-I is now recommended as the preferred treatment for insomnia:
- CBT-I puts people to sleep faster than sleeping pills. American Journal of Psychiatry
- CBT-I works as well or better than sleeping pills. Journal of Family Practice
- CBT-I is the preferred treatment for chronic insomnia. National Institutes of Health, New England Journal of Medicine review, Lancetreview, American Psychological Association, Consumer Reports
* Info from CBTforinsomnia.com
WTCG is now offering CBT-I.