May 1, 2016

Counting Sheep is Out – Cognitive Refocusing Therapy is In

While millions of people struggle with insomnia, the use of cognitive-behavioral approaches such as stimulus control therapy are becoming more popular for the initial treatment of this condition. Medications are still the most popular sleep aid that is used.

A study conducted with sixty-two college students (who, as you might imagine have chaotic schedules and sleeping patterns), showed that the use of Cognitive Refocusing Therapy (CRT) was quite effective. CRT consists of patients identifying personally engaging thoughts that they can think about later when they wake in the middle of the night. The students were asked not to think about things such as; recipes, TV shows, song lyrics, problems that need solving, etc.

After a period of one month, the study showed a decrease in insomnia and a moderate improvement of anxiety and depression. The CRT group also showed a decrease in the amount of arousal episodes. So, as a first-line of intervention for the treatment of insomnia CRT was found to be an effective method.

Gellis LA et al. Cognitive refocusing treatment for insomnia: A randomized controlled trial in university students. Behav Ther 2012 Jul 27; [e-pub ahead of print]. ( Published in Journal Watch Psychiatry September 17, 2012

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