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New guidelines for insomnia treatment

The British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP) recently released new guidelines for sleep disorders. These guidelines are intended to act as a comprehensive guide for health professionals managing patients in primary or secondary medical care. You can read the entire statement, or make do with our summary below.

The definition of insomnia

It was determined that insomnia is defined as a condition of unsatisfactory sleep - either in terms of sleep onset, sleep maintenance or early waking.

The effects of insomnia

The BAP members agreed that insomnia can be considered a 24 hour disorder as it affects daytime well-being and functioning. Insomnia can also be viewed as a syndrome similar to pain.

Insomnia decreases a patient's quality of life and can increase the chances of depression, anxiety and even cardiovascular disorders.

Insomnia triggers

Typical factors that can trigger insomnia include stress, life changes, a new baby and shift work.

Causes of insomnia

These can include anxiety about sleep, bad sleep habits, problems with internal sleep regulating mechanisms, depression and diseases such as cancer or arthritis.

Insomnia cures

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is seen as just as effective as sleeping pills for short-term treatment of insomnia. CBT is also more likely to have a longer lasting effect than drug treatment. Unfortunately this type of treatment is not always easy to access.

Treatment with hypnotic drugs is recommended for only two to four weeks. Insomnia medication should only be taken when needed, rather than every night.

The long-term safety of hypnotic drugs remains uncertain.

Insomnia facts

  • Women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than men.
  • The older we get, the more likely we are to suffer from poor sleep.
  • 6%-15% of adults in Western countries are thought to suffer from insomnia.

There doesn't seem to be much that's new to insomnia sufferers in these guidelines. However, it's always good to see insomnia taken seriously and being given the respect it deserves.

Let's hope that uniform guidelines will increase the quality and consistency of insomnia treatment.

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Last updated: October 14, 2010

This Article Was Written By

Martin Reed

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