Put down the sleeping pills. According to recently released guidelines by the American College of Physicians, the most effective way to combat insomnia is through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a structured method of treatment that teaches patients how to break bad habits.
Researchers at the American College of Physicians looked at 10 years of research to conclude that CBT is efficient at reconditioning the brain and body back to normal sleep patterns without the side effects that often come with medications.
To do so, patients practice things like not reading or doing work in their beds, or slowly making their bedtime earlier and earlier. They would see their therapist up to six times over a span of a few weeks, like with many other therapy practices.
"Americans do tend to be overmedicated for sleep," ACP president Wayne Riley told NBC News. "That's why there's a significant cost to the health care system. But also the potential side effects of sleep medications are underestimated."
It's effectiveness, though, depends on a commitment from the patient to break bad habits once and for all. "Cognitive behavior therapy at the beginning is hard to do but once you get through the initial phase it's lifelong. It's durable," Riley said.
It can also be difficult for people to get their insurance to cover CBT treatment — especially for insomnia, which some healthcare workers don't even acknowledge as a health problem, despite studies that show links between sleep deprivation and things like heart problems, stroke and diabetes.
But for those looking for one less pill to pop, CBT is a good place to start