CBT shown to be effective for insomnia but access issues need addressing, says RCGP

Publication date: 30 July 2019

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to a study in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) about CBT treatment for insomnia.

She said: "Insomnia can cause huge distress and frustration for patients, and can have significant long-term health implications.

"For many patients, sleeping tablets can seem like an obvious treatment option, but they are not usually effective for more than a few days, and GPs will only use them as a last resort after alternatives have been explored due to the risks of addiction and tolerance.

"Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) tailored to insomnia has been a first-line treatment option for some time, and we know many patients have found it beneficial, so it is really positive that its effectiveness has been shown by this research today.

"Unfortunately, access to treatments such as CBT in the NHS can be extremely difficult to come by in the community and are very variable across the country. This needs to be addressed, firstly by realising the pledge made in NHS England's GP Forward View for every GP practice in the country to have access to one of 3,000 new mental health therapists by 2020/21 and by the provision of many additional psychologists trained to deliver CBT.

"Other measures patients with insomnia can take to improve their condition include practising good 'sleep hygiene' before they go to bed, for example limiting the amount of alcohol and caffeine they drink, as well as identifying lifestyle factors that might be causing stress or anxiety.

"Achieving parity of esteem between physical and mental health is an enduring priority for the College and we have developed resources to support GPs and other healthcare professionals to deliver the best possible care to our patients with mental health conditions, including insomnia."

Further Information

The embargoed link to the BJGP study can be found at: https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp19X705065

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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