Turns out a little bit of therapy may help insomniacs sleep better than even the best sleeping pills. Harvard researchers studied 63 young and middle-aged chronic insomniacs; some had behavioral therapy, others took Ambien, the most popular sleeping pill.
Researchers say they were surprised to find after four weeks that the therapy group reported much less insomnia than the pill takers. In eight weeks, when the pill group weaned off the sleeping pills, their insomnia came back while the group using the behavior modification techniques continued to have less insomnia.
The theory is that pills may offer a quick fix, but they don't treat the underlying cause of sleepless nights. The study was conducted at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Researchers used four half-hour treatment sessions. Different behavior modification skills were taught in each session, and participants were told to practice these skills at home.
Therapy taught patients to recognize, challenge, and change perceptions about sleep deprivation, alter their sleep schedules, learn to associate their bed with sleep, and learn relaxation techniques.