Perhaps it’s no coincidence that you can’t spell the word “retired” without “tired.” Sleep issues are common in older Americans, with as many as 20 percent experiencing frequent insomnia. Though many of these people feel helpless, a new study finds a potential solution for sleepless seniors: behavioral therapy.
Behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that teaches patients to replace unhealthy habits with new, beneficial behaviors. Researchers have found it to be a useful tool in dealing with night terrors, ADHD and social phobia to name a few. In the case of insomnia behavioral therapy, a clinician encourages habits like maintaining a consistent time for going to and getting out of bed, eliminating midday naps, and keeping a positive attitude toward sleep in general.
This intervention was surprisingly successful with seniors. More than half of the older adults who underwent behavioral therapy reported overcoming insomnia. Even better, those who continued brief sleep-oriented behavioral therapy sessions were able to keep their sleep problems at bay in the months that followed as well.
Behavioral therapy is not only an exciting prospective given its apparent success, but as an alternative to sleep-oriented prescription medications. In addition to their expensive price tags, pills often lead to abuse and dependency issues. Fortunately, behavioral therapy appears to be a drug-free method of helping American seniors return to healthy sleep schedules.