Sleep therapy instead of pills, Swedish doctors told

In an interview this week with Aftonbladet the Head of the Sleep Investigation Unit at Uppsala Academic Hospital, Jan-Erik Broman, suggested that doctors should look into the possibilities of prescribing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for their sleepless patients instead of telling them to reach for the pills.

“It’s an extremely effective method, while sleeping pills are something that should only be taken for a short time,” he said.

“There are too few psychologists in Sweden that can use CBT and of those few there are even less who work with sleeping problems in particular.”

In Prague a recent test with District nurses giving CBT instead of psychologists showed a great improvement in patient’s sleeping patterns and Jan-Erik Broman says that there are now plans for introducing the scheme to GP surgeries in Sweden.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy is a combination of two kinds of therapy: cognitive and behavioural, unsurprisingly.

In behavioural therapy, people learn how to change their behaviour. With cognitive therapy, people may learn to recognize and change faulty thinking patterns. Cognitive therapy is not about “positive thinking” in the sense that you must always think happy thoughts: it’s a way to gain control over racing, repetitive thoughts which often feed or trigger anxiety

Insomnia is a common health complaint in adults and one in four Swedes are thought to suffer from it.

Recent tests in the UK have shown that for most sufferers, CBT could be the most effective measure against sleeplessness.

Bleary-eyed 54 year old Maj-Britt Bergström told Aftonbladet that she wants to give it a go.

“Before I took tablets I could lie awake until two in the morning,” she said. “If this is as effective as the studies show, I would definitely consider trying it out.”

Sources: Aftonbladet, Archives of Internal Medicine

Lysanne Sizoo

Lysanne Sizoo is a certified Counsellor, specialising in bereavement, fertility and cultural assimilation issues. She also runs a support and discussion group for English speaking women. You can contact her on [email protected], or 08 717 3769. More information on