Insomnia sufferers can ‘ditch their meds’

People suffering from chronic insomnia can swap their sleeping pills for a successful mind therapy, Australian medical research has found.

A globally recognised study on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), published in the Annals of Internal Medicine this week, showed the treatment resulted in improved sleep which was well-sustained over time, with no adverse affects.

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David Cunnington, one of the researchers from the Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre, said the paper revealed CBT could be administered to patients with chronic insomnia as first-line treatment, replacing medication or working alongside them.

He said over time patients could eventually be weened off the pills.

Dr Cunnington says medication is not always he answer.

Dr Cunnington says medication is not always he answer. Photo: Twitter

“It works by getting to the actual problem, where the meds really mask the symptoms but don’t address the underlying problem,” Dr Cunnington told The New Daily.

“Unlike sleeping tablets, where the effect wears off as soon as the tablets are stopped.”

Dr Cunnington said by the three-month mark patients involved in CBT would start thinking about sleep differently and see positive results.

“Unless you address those core problems, the symptoms will continue,” he said.

Dr Cunnington said data from about five years ago showed 95 out of 100 people in Australia with sleep disorders were taking medication.

In the US in 2012, 26 million people had a prescription for sleeping pills that came from primary care, he added.

“We want to get the message out that there’s an alternative,” Dr Cunnington said.

The Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre has been using CBT for about eight years with positive results.

The team have been up-skilling psychologists Australia-wide to be able to administer the treatment.

Dr Cunnington hoped the research paper would now spread the message globally.

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