Chronic insomnia? Docs urged to try a behavior therapy first

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Monday, May 2, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC -- Tossing and turning night after night? Don't automatically reach for the pill bottle.

New guidelines say the first choice to treat chronic insomnia should be cognitive behavioral therapy - a way to condition your body to slumber again.

It takes more time and effort than popping a pill, but the American College of Physicians says the method known as CBT can be effective and doesn't carry the side effects of medication.

The recommendation is intended to spur primary care doctors to prescribe the step. If it doesn't work, then doctors could consider adding a drug.

There are challenges, including finding health workers who are trained to deliver CBT for insomnia.

And it's not always covered by insurance -- something that is pointed out by an editorial published along with the recommendation in Annals of Internal Medicine.