Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for chronic insomnia - and yet very few doctors are recommending it.
CBT is just as effective as drugs and it's better than hypnotism. It immediately halves the worst symptoms of chronic insomnia and those who continue it for four to eight weeks see a further 25 per cent reduction. The good effects can last for up to two years, research has found.
The main therapies used by CBT include restricting the amount of time in bed to match sleep time, stimulus control to regularize the sleep-wake cycle, and to promote bedroom routines that encourage sleep. It also uses relaxation techniques, and helps the sufferer overcome fears that a lack of sleep can lead to catastrophic consequences.
It's reckoned that up to 15 per cent of adults sleep poorly most nights for at least a month, although most suffer the problem for years.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2008; 300: 2474-5).