Sleep disorders: cognitive behavior therapy helps effectively

Sleep disorders: cognitive behavior therapy helps effectively

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Researchers: Sleepless people benefit from cognitive behavior therapy

A new study has shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective method to combat chronic sleep disorders. The new findings could help to reduce the use of medication.

Chronic sleep disorders are common

Millions of people have chronic sleep disorders. It is harder to get healthy sleep, especially in old age. A new study has now shown that cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective method to combat chronic insomnia.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is very effective

The study results published in the journal "British Journal of General Practice" showed that cognitive behavioral therapy was effective for sleep disorders and led to an improvement in sleep.

According to the information, the positive effect continued for many months during the aftercare.

"There is a very effective treatment that does not require medication," said co-author Dr. Judith Davidson of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario (Canada), according to a report by the British newspaper “The Guardian”.

To arrive at their results, the researchers examined the results of 13 previously conducted studies on the provision of cognitive behavioral therapy for sleep disorders in primary care.

In some of them, participants also took medication to help them sleep.

The best treatment option

It has long been known in this country that this treatment is recommended for some patients with sleep problems.

For example, the Professional Association of German Psychiatrists (BVDN) writes on the information portal "Neurologists and Psychiatrists on the Net":

"Especially with primary insomnia or with persistent sleep disorders in the context of psychiatric disorders, the best way to get long-term control of sleep disorders is cognitive behavior therapy."

According to the BVDN, "this can be done on an outpatient basis for the vast majority of patients and is typically carried out in small groups of four to eight patients."

The Barmer health insurance company even reports on its website: "In the meantime, cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia is considered the best treatment option for sleep disorders."

Wake up less than half an hour

In the Canadian study, the results of four randomized control studies with 66 to 201 participants of mixed ages showed that the subjects fell asleep nine to 30 minutes earlier after the cognitive behavior therapy.

In addition, the wake-up time after falling asleep was reduced by 22 to 36 minutes.

In contrast, those who were not treated in this way could only reduce the time to sleep by up to four minutes and the time they woke up by sleep by a maximum of eight minutes.

According to the scientists, four to eight therapy units appear to be required for such improvements.

Another study found that there was little benefit in having sufferers only two sessions.

Prof. Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, the largest Medical Royal College in the UK, welcomed the Canadian researchers' study.

"Cognitive behavior therapy tailored to sleep disorders has been a first treatment option for some time, and we know that many patients have found it beneficial," said the expert.

"So it's really positive that this study proves its effectiveness."

Sleeping pills pose risks

According to the "Guardian", about ten to 15 percent of adults are affected by chronic sleep disorders.

The condition is linked to health problems such as depression and sometimes leads to accidents.

Studies have also shown that lack of sleep increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, obesity and diabetes, among other things.

As the newspaper writes, sleeping pills are not recommended for long-term use and can have side effects and pose a risk of addiction.

"There is not only the risk of - physical and psychological - dependency," explains the Barmer.

"Sleeping aids can also aggravate sleep disorders and increase the duration and frequency of interruptions in breathing-related breathing disorders," said the health insurance company.

And: "Older people in particular should be careful because sleeping pills can lead to gait insecurity and increase the risk of falling, impair brain performance and cause incontinence."

Help from naturopathy

There are numerous medicinal plants with sleep-promoting and calming effects, which are also often part of natural sleeping pills. However, it is better to use the herbs as tea to prevent drug addiction and to consciously rely on the pure power of the herbs. The classic sleeping herbs include:

Johannis herbs,
Clary sage,
Passion flower
and lemon balm.

In addition to being used as tea herbs, the medicinal plants can also be taken in the form of drops of tincture. Even an application in the field of aromatherapy is not excluded. On the contrary, the aromatic scents of many medicinal plants (such as the passion flower) combined with a conscious sleep ritual are able to relax mind and soul even better.

However, the intake of herbal supplements should always be discussed with a doctor first - also to avoid side effects and interactions.

Barmer also explains: "Relaxation procedures such as progressive muscle relaxation and autogenic training are not only part of sleep hygiene, but are also used in the professional therapy of sleep disorders." (Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • British Journal of General Practice: Cognitive behavioral treatment for insomnia in primary care: a systematic review of sleep outcomes, (access: 30.07.2019), British Journal of General Practice
  • The Guardian: Insomnia sufferers can benefit from therapy, new study shows, (accessed: July 30, 2019), The Guardian
  • Professional association of German psychiatrists: treatment options for sleep disorders, (access: 30.07.2019), neurologists and psychiatrists on the net
  • Barmer health insurance: sleep disorders - forms, consequences and treatment, (access: 30.07.2019), Barmer

Video: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis CBTp- Laura Tully,. (May 2022).


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