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Treating insomnia in veterans reduces suicidal thoughts

Filed in
  • military
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep Disorders

By Lynn Celmer  |  Feb 18, 2015
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A new study of veterans suggests that treating insomnia may save lives.

The study involved 405 veterans with insomnia disorder. They received up to six sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. CBT-I helps you change attitudes and habits that keep you from sleeping well. It also helps you learn new strategies to sleep better.

Results show that treating insomnia also reduced the risk of thinking about suicide. Suicidal thoughts decreased by 33 percent after treatment with CBT-I.

“Chronic insomnia is especially common among veterans,” said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler. He is president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  “This study emphasizes that effectively treating insomnia can be life-changing and potentially life-saving.”

Insomnia is the most common sleep complaint. It involves having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It also occurs when you wake up earlier than desired. About 10 percent of people have chronic insomnia disorder.

The CDC reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. It accounts for more than 38,000 deaths each year. Get help for feelings of despair by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Learn more about the study in the journal Sleep: Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia on Suicidal Ideation in Veterans.