A USA Today report examines the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia and the studies that support the use of this therapy for treatment.

Crystal Blount’s experience is common, sleep experts say. But cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia remains underused, says Michael Grandner, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist specializing in sleep.

“There are millions and millions of prescriptions for sleeping pills written each year,” he says. “But most people don’t even know this exists.”

That’s despite the fact that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a professional group for sleep doctors, says the therapy should be the first treatment prescribed for chronic insomnia (defined as persistent trouble falling or staying asleep, along with daytime sleepiness or other problems). The academy says cognitive behavioral therapy works as well, or better, than pills, with fewer side effects.

But most insomniacs never see a sleep specialist. They talk to primary care doctors who may not be aware of such recommendations, says psychologist Jason Ong, a sleep researcher at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Two recent studies, published in journals for primary care physicians, may help change that.

View the full story at www.usatoday.com