Friday, October 9, 2009

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is useful for insomnia

A small study by Dr Morin and colleagues, reported in JAMA in May 2009, studied CBT with or without sleeping meds. We know that Ambien and other sleeping medicines do help people sleep, but only in the short term. As predicted, the brain gets used to the effects of the Ambien and then it loses its effectiveness. There is usually a rebound period of insomnia when it is stopped (withdrawal).

This study was interesting because they combined CBT with Ambien for the first 6 weeks. They found the combination quite effective. After 6 weeks everyone continued the CBT for a total of 6 months. Half the group stopped their Ambien completely and the other half could take Ambien if they felt like they needed it. At the end of 6 months the people using no Ambien had better sleep than the people who used Ambien when they wanted to.

Previous studies have shown that CBT is helpful for insomnia. Now we can say that combining it with Ambien is also helpful, but patients shouldn’t take the Ambien for more than 6 weeks.

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