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New York Times tests online sleep training program developed by UMMS sleep expert

Gregg Jacobs, PhD, wants to help more insomniacs clean-up their ‘sleep hygiene’

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

August 17, 2016
  Gregg Jacobs, PhD

Gregg Jacobs, PhD

An online cognitive behavioral therapy program for insomnia co-developed by UMass Medical School sleep medicine specialist Gregg Jacobs, PhD, was put to the test by a New York Times Well columnist, who reported on her experience in an Aug. 16 story. The Times’ Roni Caryn Rabin interviewed Dr. Jacobs, assistant professor of psychiatry, for the article on the $35, five-session online program. Jacobs said that with so many people suffering from insomnia with limited or cost-prohibitive access to the few therapists trained in the technique, online training programs have been developed to make CBT-I accessible to as many people as possible.

“The number of clinicians nationally who know how to do CBT for insomnia is a couple of thousand,” Dr. Jacobs told the Times. “There are tens of millions of people out there who have insomnia.”

Clinical research has shown CBT-I to be the most effective first-line treatment for chronic insomnia, improving sleep in 75 to 80 percent of insomnia patients; reducing or eliminating sleeping pill use by 90 percent of patients. The drug-free therapy was found to be more effective than medications in three major studies that directly compared CBT-I to sleeping pills; has no side effects; and maintains long-term improvements in sleep.

Jacobs talked to the Boston Globe story about harmful misconceptions regarding insomnia. He said labeling sleep deprivation an epidemic has made his insomnia patients sleep worse as they believe the best thing they can do is get as much sleep as possible, often leading to overuse and dangerous side effects from sleep medications. The story notes that Jacobs advocates more training for clinicians on CBT-I, a psychology-based treatment that involves setting healthy habits, such as regular bedtimes and regular exercise, and fostering attitudes that reduce anxiety and encourage rest without medication.

Read the full New York Times story “A New Therapy for Insomnia: No More Negative Thoughts” here, see the Boston Globe story “Is our fear of insomnia what’s actually keeping us up at night?”, and learn more about Jacobs and cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia at