Do you toss and turn at night, hoping for a good night's sleep?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 50 to 70 million adults in the U.S. have a sleep or wakefulness disorder that can affect their lives in serious ways. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, cancer and obesity are linked to poor sleep as well as a reduced quality of life and productivity. It's so bad that the CDC has pegged insufficient sleep as a public health epidemic in the U.S.
Many people turn to sleeping pills or other medication aids. But a new study
touted as "the most thorough review of the data to date" says popping pills might not be the most effective way to get some quality zzzzzs. Instead, try changing your attitude and behavior about sleep.
"We found that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia helped patients enter sleep about 20 minutes faster and improves sleep efficiency by almost 10%," said study author Dr. James Trauer of the Melbourne Sleep Disorders Center.
Cognitive behavior therapy is a psychological treatment that focuses on changing specific behaviors and thinking processes. For example, when it comes to sleep, CBT would tackle unrealistic expectations about getting enough shut-eye,
give better sleep recommendations and offer relaxation techniques as well as stimulus control.
Turns out one of the worst things you can do is stay in bed if you can't sleep. Sleep experts want you to get up and leave the room if you haven't fallen asleep within 20 minutes and only go back to bed when you are sleepy.
If you're interested in giving CBT a try, reach out to your regional psychological association for local resources. The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies has a tip sheet
on questions to ask as you make your decision.