If insomnia keeps you awake at night, Flinders University researchers
recommend a trip to the doctor - not for a sleeping pill prescription
but for a short course of intensive behavioral therapy.
Researchers have developed new clinical guidelines for Australian
doctors to give family GPs insights into the most effective treatment
for insomnia - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (or "CBTi").
CBTi improves insomnia, mental health, and quality of life, and can
be more successful than sleeping pills, say Adelaide Institute for Sleep
Health (AISH) sleep experts from Flinders University in a new paper in
the Australian Journal of General Practice.
Most patients with insomnia managed in general practice are
prescribed potentially addictive sedative-hypnotic medicines (eg,
benzodiazepines), and never access the CBTi that would treat their
underlying condition, they say.
"We are aiming to provide GPs with more information, accessible
guidelines and tools, as well as referral and treatment options to
manage insomnia with CBTi," says lead researcher Dr. Alex Sweetman from
"To get the ball rolling, our step-by-step model for GPs will
identify, assess and treat insomnia with a Brief Behavioural Treatment
for Insomnia program (BBTi)."
Brief Behavioural Treatment for insomnia leads to long-term
improvement of insomnia, mental health, and overall quality of life, and
can help patients reduce their use of sedative-hypnotic medicines.
This clinical review published in the Australian Journal of General Practice
provides GPs with a description of a four-session insomnia treatment
program that is tailored to the time limitations, knowledge, and
capacity of general practice staff.
Dr. Sweetman and his team are currently running 2 trials to provide
GPs with a suite of tools and treatment options to manage patients with
Chronic insomnia is characterized by difficulties getting to sleep,
staying asleep, and/or early morning awakenings from sleep - with
daytime impairments including reduced work productivity, fatigue and
Common in approximately 15% of the general population, it can
persist for many years unless treated - ideally with non-pharmaceutical
Meanwhile, AISH and other sleep experts have also expanded ongoing
investigations into better treatments for complex cases of combined
insomnia, and sleep apnoea (COMISA), all conditions leading to doctor
diagnoses and the need for targeted interventions.
The study of 2044 adult Australians found COMISA disorders are
common and associated with increased medical and psychiatric
co-morbidity, as well as poor general health.
"Much more investigation is required understand these combined
disorders and improve diagnostic and treatment approaches," researchers
say in their paper, Prevalence and associations of co-morbid insomnia
and sleep apnoea in an Australian population-based sample (2021) by A
Sweetman, YA Melaku, L Lack, A Reynolds, TK Bill, R Adams, and S Appleton
has been published in Sleep Medicine (Elsevier) DOI:
More information at A step-by-step model for a brief behavioral
treatment for insomnia in Australian general practice (2021) by
Alexander Sweetman, Nicholas A Zwar, Nicole Grivell, Nicole Lovato and
Leon Lack has been published in the Australian Journal of General
Practice Volume 50, Issue 5, DOI: 10.31128/AJGP-04-20-5391
Insomnia is a common and debilitating disorder that is frequently
associated with important consequences for physical and mental health
and wellbeing. It often occurs in tandem with another common sleep
disorder, obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).
Along with daytime sleepiness and fatigue, these debilitating
disorders can be treated in a number of ways to reduce long-term health
issues including diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
Source: News Release
June 3, 2021