To bring effective, innovative treatment to the up to 50% of Veterans entering VA health care who have Insomnia Disorder, VA has developed an online training course called “Path to Better Sleep.”
In this podcast, Dr. Sarra Nazem, from Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention, interviews clinical psychologists Dr. Carolyn Greene and Dr. Andrew Moon from VA’s Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention about Insomnia Disorder, the link between Insomnia Disorder and suicide, and how VA is bringing treatment directly to Veterans through the free, self-directed, online training course “Path to Better Sleep.”
If you have ever suffered insomnia you really do not need a podcast to tell you how miserable it can be and how the lack of sleep affects your whole life. Poor sleep can affect your immune system, making you more susceptible to catching colds, and even bone regeneration, which for the elderly can make recovery from a fall more difficult. And good sleep just feels better, we are less cranky, and our mood is better.
The good news is that there are treatments that work for stopping insomnia. Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for Insomnia (CBT-i) aims to improve sleep habits and behaviors by identifying and changing the thoughts and the behaviors that affect the ability of a person to sleep or sleep well.
Dr. Greene makes clear that CBT-i is not sleep hygiene, though it may borrow some techniques as a starting place. She makes it clear that CBT-i goes for beyond sleep hygiene; so, if sleep hygiene did not help, know that CBT-i is a different treatment that does work. CBT-i has been shown to be more effective than sleep medication for the long-term on-going treatment of insomnia.
You can start now at Path to Better Sleep (https://www.veterantraining.va.gov/insomnia/) which is a free online tool developed by the VA.
Joe Huggins is a program analyst for the Eastern Colorado GRECC and Rocky Mountain MIRECC.