Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Treating Sleeplessness

I enjoy being able to answer questions from the readers of Today’s Christian Living magazine in my “Ask Dr. Walt” column. Here’s a recent Q&A about sleep:

Dear Dr. Walt,

What are the best treatment options for insomnia? My doctor says health professionals are no longer using sleeping medications long-term. What’s that all about? —Insomniac in Iowa

Dear Sleepy,

Congrats on selecting a wise and up-to-date physician.

In fact, psychological and behavioral interventions are now considered the best treatments for insomnia–not medications.

Guidelines from the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommend a therapy called “cognitive behavioral therapy”(CBT) as the first-line and most effective treatment for all adults with chronic insomnia disorder.

Nothing has been shown more effective for chronic sleep problems than what can be provided by a qualified Christian counselor or therapist.

A convenient recent approach is to use a digitized [app-based] version of CBT.

Information on this new program can be found at

It’s important to know that most of the prescriptions your doctor could write for insomnia should not be used for more than a few days or weeks and may be associated, at least with long-term use, with head injuries, cancer, and dementia.

Melatonin is a popular supplement for sleep.

Studies show it can help some people fall asleep faster and might be worth a trial run for some people with insomnia, particularly elderly patients.

The suggested dose is 0.3 to 5 milligrams.

Immediate-release melatonin is believed best for people with difficulty falling asleep, while sustained-release melatonin may be better for people having trouble staying asleep.

Valerian is another supplement used as a sleep aid, but there’s still not enough solid evidence to recommend it for most patients.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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