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Can’t sleep? Therapy may be the best treatment option

Can’t sleep? Therapy may be the best treatment option

Insomnia is estimated to affect between six and 10 percent of adults. And if you’re among them, researchers have discovered behavioral therapy and prescription drugs could alleviate your suffering better than over-the-counter medications.

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

Researchers Charles Morin, PhD, a psychology professor at Laval University in Quebec City, and Ruth Benca, MD, PhD, a sleep disorders doctor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, say signs include taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, waking up too early, or sleeping less than 6.5 hours a night.

If after meeting any of these criteria you feel like you can’t focus during the day because you’re so tired, you may be an insomniac.

The standard medical definition of “chronic insomnia disorder” involves having at least three sleepless nights a week for at least three months. Everyone has trouble sleeping from time to time, but one study that followed people with insomnia found that nearly 70 percent consistently deal with the problem.

While over-the-counter remedies like melatonin haven’t proven to be terribly effective, Morin and Benca write in The Lancet that prescription medications and cognitive behavioral therapy involving relaxation techniques have better success rates.

But the problem shouldn’t be ignored. People with insomnia often have other conditions like depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, so Morin said, “we should not treat just the depression … and assume the insomnia will go away.”

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