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Behavioral Therapy Effective in Treating Insomnia

Therapy can improve sleep efficiency and slow-wave sleep better than medication

TUESDAY, June 27 (HealthDay News) -- Behavioral therapy can be more effective than sleep medication in treating insomnia, improving sleep efficiency and reducing the time spent awake at night, according to a report in the June 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Borge Sivertsen, Psy.D., and colleagues from the University of Bergen in Norway, randomized 46 adults with insomnia and a mean age of 60.8 years to receive either cognitive behavioral therapy (sleep hygiene, sleep restriction, stimulus control, cognitive therapy and relaxation), sleep medication (7.5 mg of zopiclone per night), or a placebo for six weeks. Clinical polysomnographic data and sleep diaries were used to assess the efficacy of the treatments.

After six months, total sleep time was similar in all groups, but patients receiving behavioral therapy improved their sleep efficiency from 81.4 percent to 90.1 percent, spent much more time in slow-wave sleep and spent less time awake at night. In contrast, sleep efficiency fell slightly from 82.3 percent to 81.9 percent in patients receiving zopiclone. Most outcomes were similar for zopiclone and the placebo, according to the study.

"These results suggest that interventions based on cognitive behavioral therapy are superior to zopiclone treatment both in short- and long-term management of insomnia in older adults," Sivertsen and colleagues conclude.

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