Put insomnia in its place

Massey University's Sleep/Wake Research Centre in Wellington is offering treatment for insomniacs, for a second year.

Dr Bronwyn Sweeney of the Sleep/Wake Research

Insomnia is a major health care problem globally, with about one-third of Kiwis reporting they regularly have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Twenty-five per cent of New Zealanders are affected by long-term insomnia symptoms.

For a second year, Massey University’s Sleep/Wake Research Centre in Wellington is offering restless sleepers solutions, providing group and individual treatment for insomniacs. The group treatment programme is a first in New Zealand.

Dr Bronwyn Sweeney says the treatment used at the centre, called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), has been recommended by the American College of Physicians, as first-line therapy for chronic insomnia.

The guideline report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, says the therapy improves sleep and daytime functioning in both the general population of adults and older adults with chronic insomnia disorder.

Dr Sweeney says while many of us occasionally struggle getting to sleep, insomnia is when you regularly have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep and/or waking too early, affecting how you function during the day.

“Over time, insomnia can affect your health, relationships, or work. People who suffer from insomnia can feel frustrated and overwhelmed and often the first step is to discuss their concerns with their doctor. People who think they have insomnia are welcome to contact the Centre to discuss an assessment without a referral.”

Dr Sweeney says the CBT-I treatment is non-pharmacological and has demonstrated long-lasting effects. It has been used successfully in Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, China, and the Netherlands.

The first Wellington-based group session begins this month, with six 90-minute sessions run over seven weeks. The clinic is also exploring the possibility of a weekend or daytime group later this year.

Tuesday evenings - February 28 - April 11

Wednesday evenings – March 22 - May 3

Tuesday evenings – June 13 - July 25

Following an initial assessment, you can opt to undertake individual treatment (commonly spanning about 4-8 sessions) or group treatment. The treatment is provided by clinical psychologists with research backgrounds in sleep, and training in working with individuals with sleep problems. Contact the Sleep/Wake Research Centre for an up-to-date schedule of fees.

Individuals affected by insomnia who wish to discuss this treatment option can contact the Sleep/Wake Research Centre at goodsleep@massey.ac.nz or phone 04 979 3997.

Clients may also be invited to participate in ongoing research at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre to better understand and improve the sleep health of New Zealanders.

Massey University offers courses to both undergraduates and postgraduates about sleep and circadian physiology. The Sleep/Wake Research Centre is world-renowned for its research and employs some of New Zealand’s most highly-respected practitioners and researchers.

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