Behavioral therapy may lead to lower stress in insomnia patients, says study

Behavioral therapy may lead to lower stress in insomnia patients, says study

People suffering from insomnia may experience lower stress levels and increased daytime functionality as a result of behavioral therapy. These are the findings of a study which focused on 160 adults, who were at least 30 years old and suffered from chronic insomnia. All the participants received weekly 90-minute group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions for six weeks. In addition to CBT, zolpidem (Ambien), a sedative, was also administered to half of the participants selected on a random basis.
The results of the study showed that participants in both groups got better sleep; however, participants who received only therapy experienced substantial improvement in daytime functioning due to improved sleep. Better sleep resulted in enhancement of memory, attentiveness and general well-being, and lower levels of anxiety, depression and exhaustion.

As a follow-up, people seeking counseling (with or without medication) were divided into two groups at random: in one case, CBT was continued intermittently over a period of six months, and in the second case there was no further counseling. Greater improvements were reported in the group which continued to receive therapy during the next six months than the group in which counseling sessions were stopped. The study was published in the journal Behavioral Research and Therapy in December 2016.

Insomnia impacts daytime functioning and general well-being

According to Charles M. Morin, professor of psychology and director of the sleep research center at Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada and lead author of the study, nocturnal symptoms is not the reason why most individuals suffering from insomnia seek treatment. When lack of sleep starts impacting an individuals’ vigor, temperament and mental abilities during the day, only then they turn to professional help.

As per the American Sleep Association, one out of three adults faces occasional bouts of insomnia, whereas nearly 10 percent suffer from acute insomnia – showing symptoms of insomnia at least three nights every week for over a month. The primary indication of insomnia is difficulty in falling and/or staying asleep, which leads to sleep deprivation. This can cause others symptoms such as feeling tired after waking up, difficulty in concentration, lethargy or drowsiness during the day, and episodes of anxiety, depression or irritation. Moreover, insomnia becomes more common as a person ages and it recurs more frequently in women than men.

Insomnia is usually caused by one or more of the following reasons:

  • Physical illnesses such as certain heart and lung diseases
  • Side-effects of medicines
  • Substances such as caffeine, tobacco and alcohol
  • Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Less conducive sleep environments or interruptions in sleep routines
  • Another sleep disorder such as restless legs syndrome
  • Working in shifts and recurrent traveling across time zones

Road to recovery

Patrick Finan, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, states that the results of the study do not imply that sleeping aids should not be prescribed. Instead, they present evidence which may help doctors in considering CBT as a good first option instead of medication. The authors acknowledge the restraint that the study did not consider the impact of taking prescription sleeping pills on a stand-alone basis, that is, without CBT. Accordingly, it is not possible to determine if only counseling is the best option and not medication.

Sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, irritability and loss of well-being. If you notice someone in stress or depression who has sleep disturbance as well, it is important to enroll in counseling programs and therapy sessions at a certified center under the guidance of skilled professionals. Contact the Colorado Mental Health Help experts by calling at our 24/7 helpline number 866-899-5063 to get details about the mental health treatment centers in Colorado. You can also chat online with our trained mental health specialists who will guide you in the best possible way.