NY Times — As this article points out, insomnia symptoms affect about a third of adults, and many of them go untreated. Insomnia can negatively impact a person’s work and personal life, as the author of the article, Austin Frakt, notes when describing falling asleep while reading to his daughters in the evening. Patients who are treated successfully for insomnia experience a better mood, feel healthier, and have fewer symptoms of depression. However, treating insomnia can be difficult, and medications are not always the best choice. In fact, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is becoming a very effective way to help cure insomnia. One randomized trial compared CBT to Restoril (a benzodiazepine) and found CBT alone led to more improvements in sleep, even compared to a combination of CBT and Restoril. CBT also outperformed Ambien alone and adding Ambien to CBT did not lead to any greater improvement. CBT helps to reorient the patient’s thinking regarding sleep since insomnia is often as much a condition of the mind as it is of the body, and can assist patients in developing a healthy way to think about sleep (even a bad night’s sleep) without the usual associated anxiety.
In my office, chronic insomnia, or sleep disorder, comes up very frequently among the complaints from my patients. As we all know, it is a very tough, quality-of-life issue to resolve, and it takes a lot of work: serious changes in daily life like “sleep hygiene” prior to going to bed and often more than one “natural” modality of treatment. Some examples of treatment are homeopathic medicines, of course, but also meditation, breathing techniques, cranial electrotherapy stimulation, brain nourishing supplements, etc. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is now another treatment to explore.
More and more studies are coming out confirming that anxiolytics (benzodiazepines like Valium and Restoril) as well as hypnotics like Ambien are not the solution, and are associated with increased risk of dementia and even depression when used long-term. Getting off those medications can be very challenging, as withdrawal symptoms are often very disturbing, but homeopathy does help significantly when tapering off.