One 60-minute cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) session “cured” acute insomnia in 73 per cent of participants / Getty

Cognitive behavioural therapy could be the key to tackling sleep loss

A simple one-hour therapy session improves the sleeping patterns of people suffering from insomnia, a new study has shown.

A team at Northumbria University believe millions could benefit from a study showing one cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) session “cured” acute insomnia in 73 per cent of participants.

Acute insomnia is defined as difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep for between two weeks and three months. Anything longer than this is classified as chronic insomnia.

A group of 40 participants suffering from acute insomnia and not taking medication to help them sleep were split into two groups for the study. One group received a one-hour CBT session delivered by the lead author Professor Jason Ellis and a self-help pamphlet about CBT to read at home. The control group did not receive the treatment until after the study was completed.

Sixty per cent of participants reported improvements in their sleep quality one month after the therapy. The effects were even more pronounced three months after the study, with 73 per cent reporting an improvement in their sleep. Only 15 per cent of the control group did not go on to develop chronic insomnia.

Professor Ellis said: “Chronic insomnia is a considerable health burden both on the individual and the economy and has been linked to the development of, or worsening of, a number of physical and psychiatric conditions.

“The results of our study clearly showed that a single therapy session had successful results, with an improvement in sleep quality for some 60 per cent of those with acute insomnia within one month. The longer-term benefits were even better with almost three quarters of those who received the intervention not developing chronic insomnia.”

The study was published on Monday in the journal SLEEP.