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Internet against insomnia

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INTERNET AGAINST INSOMNIA Adapted from Time Magazine

Getting a decent night's sleep is not so easy for about 30% of American adults who suffer from occasional insomnia. They filled more than 50 million prescriptions in 2008 for sleeping pillsand spent more than $600 million on sleep-inducing supplements such as melatonin and valerian root. Others seek medical treatment or psychological therapy to get to sleep, while the rest of us accept our nocturnal tossing and turning with philosophy, and gulp an extra cup of coffee the next morning to compensate.

Now a new study in the journal Sleep suggests a surprising treatment for the sleepless: the Internet. Web-based treatments have emerged for all kinds of bad habits and disorders, such as overeating, smoking, depression � and insomnia.

Compared with face-to-face counseling or medical treatments, online therapies are simpler and less expensive. And there's growing evidence that online therapy really works: in the new Sleep study, 81% of participants who completed a five-week, online program for insomnia reported improvement in sleep.

The study's author, Norah Vincent, a clinical psychologist, says that many of the 40 participants who completed her multimedia program reported both better sleep quality and less daytime fatigue than a control group.

Based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, Vincent's virtual therapy combines videos, text and audio clips to teach the sleepless everything about good sleep hygiene, from how to relax the body before getting into bed to how not to stress out when you fail to doze off right away. One of the worst things you can do when you can't fall asleep is to lie there and dwell on the consequences of not getting enough sleep. Participants were asked to keep digital sleep diaries .

Vincent's study found that 35% of those who received online treatment were "much" improved compared with 50% of those who received in-person group therapy using the same behavioral cognitive approach at Vincent's sleep clinic at the University of Manitoba in Canada. The benefit of the online strategy, of course, is that it can work for people who don't have access to face-to-face therapy.

Some proponents of online therapy say it may actually be more effective than in-person counseling. "You don't have to worry about personalities, and you can go over the material over and over," notes Gregg Jacobs, an insomnia specialist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

But computer counseling has its detractors. Online therapy can be helpful as an educational tool, says Mostafavi, who runs a chain of sleep clinics in Southern California . He cautions, "you don't have the benefit of talking to a professional and finding out what is causing the insomnia." Insomnia may be a side effect of an underlying condition, such as anxiety, Alzheimer's, arthritis or asthma, or it can result simply from poor sleep habits, like failing to keep a regular bedtime. Vincent concedes that patients who have deeper problems � those who are depressed or suicidal � or have trouble concentrating are unlikely to benefit from the program.

Dr. Michael Sateia, director of sleep medicine in Lebanon, N.H. says: "Sleep medicine is still in its childhood, and for decades we have lived in a culture where pharmacological therapies have been the mainstay. But we are beginning to change that mentality."

There may be no single cure-all for sleeplessness, but such promising alternatives should help more night owls wake in the morning feeling refreshed.


1 All American people suffer from insomnia.

2 People who suffer from insomnia turn in their beds continuously.

3 In 2008 American people spent a lot of money on sleeping pills.

4 Melatonin and valerian roots help people to sleep.

5 People who sleep poorly drink less coffee.

6 The new virtual therapy against insomnia is based on videos, texts and audio clips.

7 Gregg Jacobs is an insomnia specialist at the University of Manitoba.

8 Everybody is enthusiastic about the new therapy.

9 Insomnia may be a side effect of different illnesses.

10 Patients with serious problems mostly benefit from thenew therapy


1 Medicines that make you sleep.(Par. 1)

2 The condition in which people aren�t able to sleep well from time to time.(par. 1)

3 Moving restlessly in bed.(par. 1)

4 The specialist of the mind.(par. 4)

5 A person who takes part in a program .(par. 4)

6 A written record of your activities.(par. 5)

7 Admittance (par.6)

8 A doctor who treat sleep disorders (par. 7)

9 People who oppose or criticize an initiative (par. 8)

10 An illness that impairs your ability to breathe properly (par. 8)

11 An age of life (par. 9)

12 Night animals (par.10)