Men With Insomnia May Have Higher Death Risk
Study Shows 4-Fold Higher Death Rate in Men With Insomnia vs. Normal Sleepers
New Insomnia Treatments Needed continued...
Shives fully agrees with Vgontzas on this. She notes that some people with insomnia actually sleep better in a sleep lab, or in a hotel, than they do at home. Those who sleep poorly in the lab, she suggest, may represent a particularly high-risk subgroup.
Shives and Vgontzas agree on another thing: Contrary to popular opinion, insomnia is very difficult to treat.
"The current treatments available for insomnia are very, very limited," Vgontzas says. "We really have to increase our efforts to find new treatments. I know every drug company advertises its sleeping pill, but these medications are good for only a little while. Insomnia lasts for a long time. Our patients are frustrated with us, and we are frustrated with lack of success."
"The dark side of the moon is we don't understand insomnia very well and we treat it worse," Shives says.
"The pills don't get most people seven or eight hours of sleep. At most they get six. A whole subset of patients immediately feels bad when they take these drugs. And then there are insomniacs for whom they seem like miracle pills, until they take them for a year and they don't work anymore."
Shives says people with insomnia suffer a real physical illness. But for patients who get no relief from medication, she often recommends cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with a qualified psychologist.
"Over two to four years, CBT is more effective than medications," she says. "But still, this means taking people with a bona fide physical problem and teaching them these psycho-emotional tools to try to control their bodies. Insomnia is truly a mind-meets-body disorder."
The Vgontzas study appears in the Sept. 1 issue of the journal Sleep.