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Talk therapy beats drugs for insomnia

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BOSTON, Sep 27, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Boston researchers have found that cognitive behavioral therapy is more effective than sleeping pills in treating chronic sleep-onset insomnia.

In a study summarized in the Sept. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School found non-drug techniques yield better short- and long-term results than the most widely prescribed sleeping pill, zolpidem, commonly known as Ambien.

It is the first placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the separate and combined effects of the CBT and pharmacological therapies in treating insomnia in young and middle-aged adults.

"Sleeping pills are the most frequent treatment for insomnia, yet, CBT techniques clearly were more successful in helping the majority of study participants to become normal sleepers. The pills were found to be only moderately effective compared to CBT and lost their effectiveness as soon as they were discontinued," said study leader Gregg Jacobs.

"Our results suggest CBT should now be considered the first line treatment for insomnia, which is experienced on a nightly basis by one-third of the nation's adult population."

Insomnia affects more than 70 million Americans and is one of the most common complaints brought to physician's offices.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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