A new study found that cognitivebehavior therapy worked better thansleeping pills at reducing insomnia. Cognitivebehavior therapy involves patientslearning to recognize and change patternsof thought and behavior that contributeto problems.
During the study, 63 healthy individualswith insomnia were randomly given Ambien(zolpidem tartrate), cognitive behaviortherapy, both, or a placebo. Those whoreceived therapy had five 30-minute sessionsover 6 weeks. They were givendaily exercises to "recognize, challenge,and change stress-inducing" thoughts,and they were taught techniques such asdelaying bedtime or getting up to read ifthey did not fall asleep within 20 minutes,according to lead investigator Gregg D.Jacobs, PhD.
The individuals taking Ambien took afull dose for a month and then were slowlytaken off the drug over the course ofanother month. The participants kept diariesin which they estimated the lengthof time it took them to achieve sleep. After3 weeks, that time was reduced by 44%in the therapy group and in the combinationtreatment group, by 29% in the sleeping-pill-alone group, and by 10% in theplacebo group. Reporting in the Archivesof Internal Medicine (September 27,2004), the researchers found that 2weeks after treatment had stopped thegap had increased. The participants inthe therapy group fell asleep in half thetime it had taken them prior to the study,compared with 17% faster for the sleeping-pill-alone group.