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Can insomnia be cured by online therapy?

Feb 2nd, 2017 by

Up to half of us have problems sleeping – and some experts say online treatment may soon become the norm. But which tool should you use?

Can’t get to sleep? Try online therapy. While a glowing screen is a counter-intuitive cure for insomnia, there is evidence that online cognitive behavourial therapy (CBT) can restore normal sleep patterns. In a study published in this month’s Jama Psychiatry, an online CBT programme cured 57% of those who used it, compared with 27% who had standard education about insomnia.

Insomnia affects up to half of all people – with up to 20% having a serious problem with getting off to sleep (or falling asleep again if they wake up). Chronic insomnia can last for years – making people feel sleepy during the day and anxious at night. Standard advice includes promoting “sleep hygiene”: a cool, dark bedroom; going to bed and getting up at the same time every day; and not napping. After that, it’s face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy – but there aren’t enough therapists to go round. This may be why people are still prescribed sleeping tablets that make them feel pleasantly dissociated and are very addictive.

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