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What makes cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia so effective?

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (otherwise known as CBT for insomnia or CBT-i) is universally recognized as the most effective insomnia treatment.

That's because CBT works by tackling the root cause of most cases of insomnia (incorrect thoughts and behaviors towards sleep).

Researchers recently set out to determine which component of CBT for insomnia was the most effective - cognitive therapy (which addresses incorrect thoughts and attitudes towards sleep) or behavioral therapy (which addresses negative behaviors and lifestyle issues that affect sleep).

188 individuals with an average age of 47 and an average persistent insomnia history of 14.5 years were split into three groups.

One group underwent eight weeks of behavioral therapy, one group underwent eight weeks of cognitive therapy and one group underwent eight weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Researchers found that full CBT was the most effective when it came to treating insomnia and improving sleep.

At the end of the course, 67% of those in the CBT and behavioral therapy groups and 42% of those in the cognitive therapy group saw improvements in their sleep.

Six months after treatment, over 67% of those in the CBT group saw additional improvements in their sleep, compared to 62% of those in the cognitive therapy group and only 44% in the behavioral group.

These findings show that although improvements in the behavioral therapy group were fast, they didn't persist over time (unlike full CBT). Improvements in the cognitive therapy group were slower to emerge, but lasted over the long term.

Although behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy are both effective when it comes to improving sleep, this study demonstrates that full CBT should be regarded as the preferred treatment option.

My free sleep training course uses CBT techniques to improve sleep. Over 2,500 insomniacs have completed my course and 98% say they would recommend it to a friend.

Source: Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology

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Last updated: February 24, 2015

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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