Sleep: Throw Away the Sleeping Pills

Belief in sleep meds may inhibit sleep.

By Avigail Gordon, published on March 1, 2010 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Is worrying about your sleep keeping you up at night? Research has shown that how you think about sleep can contribute to insomnia. But a recent study from the Duke University Medical Center suggests that a belief in the importance of medication for treatment might make insomnia sufferers especially resistant to a common psychotherapeutic approach.

Many insomniacs worry about falling asleep and feel helpless. While all participants showed some improvement following cognitive-behavioral therapy, those who insisted medication was necessary to overcome their insomnia remained abnormally worried about their sleep. Study coauthor Jack Edinger suggests that therapy must first "target the beliefs people have about medications and provide some challenge to those" before it can be effective.