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Changing the way they think could help insomniacs sleep

Changing the way they think could help insomniacs sleep



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Many people turn to medication to get a good night's sleep, but some doctors say that might not be good enough for insomnia patients.

It's a vicious cycle. An insomniac doesn't get any sleep for a while, so they stress out about it. In turn, the stress and the worrying keeps them from getting sleep later.

Dr. Paul Teman, with the University of Utah Sleep Wake Center, said, "I've had some patients tell me that they'll be thinking about their sleep at lunchtime."

Dr. Teman says sleep medications don't really address the underlying psychological problems leading to insomnia.

"There's a psychiatric condition called generalized anxiety disorder that could be causing the insomnia. One of the core features of generalized anxiety disorder is insomnia," he said.

Not to say medications can't help, but cognitive behavioral therapy is the primary treatment for many insomnia cases.

"The theory behind cognitive behavioral therapy is that you're changing the way you think, and that leads to a change in behavior," Dr. Teman said.

He says part of this therapy is convincing patients that horrible things aren't going to automatically happen if they don't get a full night of sleep, which some patients believe.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

Paul Nelson

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