People who suffer from insomnia could be cured of the sleep disorder by following a 6-week, drug-free regimen recommended by a sleep physician at Virginia Mason.

“Helping someone who has seemingly lost the natural ability to sleep is one of the most satisfying things I do in my profession,” says Brandon R. Peters, MD, a board-certified neurologist who practices sleep medicine and is author of the new book Insomnia Solved, in a release.

He recommends cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) as the first-line treatment. This type of treatment empowers people to manage stress and develop healthy behaviors without prescription medications.

Based on the latest advances in sleep research and Peters’ clinical experience, his guide lays out a step-by-step treatment program proven to cure insomnia. The core features include:

  • Education on normal sleep and identification of triggers of insomnia
  • Overview of sleeping pills, potential side effects, and reduction of their use
  • Development of healthy and effective sleep behaviors
  • Skills to calm the mind and manage stress
  • Individualized sleep-wake schedule program
  • Elimination of thoughts, behaviors and feelings that compromise sleep
  • Coping strategies to preserve daytime function

“I see how CBT-I transforms lives,” he says. “Even patients with decades of insomnia, and who are on 5 different sleeping pills, can discover normal sleep without medications in a few short months.”

Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early in the morning, or experiencing sleep that is not good quality. A third of men and women in the United States report they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A prolonged lack of enough sleep has been linked with many chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and depression.

“Poor sleep is killing us,” Peters says. “Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, affecting 1 in 10 Americans and costing the economy more than $100 billion annually. It’s important that people recognize insomnia as a problem that can be solved without drugs.”

Peters was trained to conduct CBT-I at Stanford University, where he continues to serve as a clinical faculty affiliate. Over the past several years, he has helped hundreds of people with insomnia resolve their condition. He treats patients at the Virginia Mason Sleep Disorders Center in Seattle, where he also leads a group CBT-I workshop.