logo Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) versus Sleeping Medication for Insomnia Symptoms

We use the term "sleep-assisting medications" (SAMs) to refer to prescription medication, over-the-counter remedies and herbal or other natural formulations.

SAMs can work the very first night that you take them, unlike CBT which takes time and perseverance to make a difference to your sleep. CBT leads to long term changes while SAMs only work when you take them.

SAMs can be used to relieve the effects of "brief, situational insomnia". That is the insomnia that is caused by a stressful or upsetting event, or some other short-term disruption. Ideally, you should take SAMs for a short period of time and then stop taking them, put up with a few nights of poor sleep while you readjust to sleeping without assistance (this is called rebound insomnia), and then go back to sleeping normally.

CBT changes your behaviours that cause poor sleep, leading to sustained improvement in your sleep patterns and more refreshing sleep, whereas SAMs may leave you feeling "hung-over" or lacking in energy the following day.  SAMs might only keep you asleep for a few hours, will only work when you take them, and many people find they need to take increased quantities or higher dosages to achieve the same effect. Not all SAMs are effective for everybody.

If you have been taking SAMs, and you would like to stop, the SlumberPro program uses methods that have been proven to help people readjust to sleeping without SAMs.

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