New insomnia treatment gets nod

If insomnia keeps you awake at night, Flinders University researchers recommend a trip to the doctor – not for a sleeping pill prescription but for a short course of intensive behavioural therapy.

Insomnia is a common and debilitating disorder that is frequently associated with important consequences for physical and mental health and wellbeing. It often occurs in tandem with another common sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

Along with daytime sleepiness and fatigue, these debilitating disorders can be treated in a number of ways to reduce long-term health issues including diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression.

For insomnia, new Flinders University clinical guidelines for Australian doctors aim to give family GPs insights into the most effective treatment for insomnia – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (or ‘CBTi’).

CBTi improves insomnia, mental health and quality of life, and can be more successful than sleeping pills, say Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health (AISH) sleep experts from Flinders University in a new paper in the Australian Journal of General Practice.

Most patients with insomnia managed in general practice are prescribed potentially addictive sedative-hypnotic medicines (e.g. benzodiazepines), and never access the CBTi that would treat their underlying condition, they say.

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