September 28, 2004

WHY DO THE COSTS OF MEDICINES WE DON'T NEED KEEP GOING UP?:

Sleep study touts therapy over pills (Scott Allen, September 28, 2004, Boston Globe)

A handful of therapy sessions does more to help chronic insomniacs get to sleep than the top-selling sleeping pill, according to a new Harvard Medical School study, suggesting that doctors are relying too heavily on medications to treat Americans' increasingly restless nights.

A quarter of adults take sleeping pills at some point during the year, according to a National Sleep Foundation survey, reflecting the difficulty that more than half of Americans have sleeping at least a few nights a week. But the Harvard study found that among people who chronically struggle with insomnia, advice from a therapist is more likely to produce a normal night's rest than Ambien, the top-selling sleep aid, with sales of $1.5 billion for 2003.

"The first line of treatment should be cognitive behavior therapy, not drugs, and in 75 percent of patients, that is going to be more effective," said Gregg Jacobs of the Sleep Disorders Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, lead author of the study.

Jacobs said sleeping pills should be prescribed mainly for people whose insomnia is caused by an event or illness, such as jet lag from a long trip or the side effects of chemotherapy. Other insomniacs, he said, are staying awake in part because of bad sleep habits that a behavior therapist can best help to change.

Therapists' advice typically includes such basics as going to bed only when drowsy and getting up at the same time every day, even after a poor night's sleep. The objective is to get insomniacs to unlearn bad habits such as paying bills in bed, worrying instead of sleeping, and keeping themselves awake at night with coffee and strenuous exercise.


It's all about sleep hygiene.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 28, 2004 8:36 AM
Comments

Hmmm, well the sleep doctor did find I had mild apnea and recommended a mask. I ignored him.

In the meantime, I started taking Nexxium and cutting back on the Diet Pepsi, and the cough has largely gone away.

I sleep better.

I've heard great things about the sleep masks though, now that I've started asking. I take the reports of the masked men with a grain of salt, but I believe their wives when they say it works.

The wives are, typically, EXTREMELY enthusiastic. What that means I cannot say.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 28, 2004 2:00 PM
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