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July 15, 2006
Cognitive behavioral therapy for six weeks may treat insomnia better than drugs, according to a study by researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway.
The study included 46 participants over the age of 55 who had suffered from insomnia for three months or more. The participants were randomly assigned to receive weekly 50-minute therapy sessions, a drug called xopiclone or a placebo for six weeks. It was found that:
- Those who received therapy increased the time they spent in bed actually sleeping from 81.4 percent to 90.1 percent.
- Those who received zopiclone had a decrease in sleep efficiency, from 82.3 percent to 81.9 percent.
- Therapy participants spent more time in the deepest stages of sleep and less time awake at night than those who received zopiclone or placebo.
The researchers concluded that cognitive behavioral therapy is more effective than zopiclone for treating chronic insomnia. The therapy included education about lifestyle factors that influence sleep, such as sticking to a sleep schedule, as well as how to correct poor sleep habits and perform relaxation techniques.