The Most (And Least) Cost-effective Insomnia Treatments

Martin Reed | May 17th 2017 May 30th 2017

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If you live with chronic insomnia, no doubt you’re willing to pay almost any amount of money to improve your sleep. Before doing so, make sure you are aware of which insomnia treatments have been found to be cost-effective.

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The cost of insomnia

Studies have found that those with insomnia spend more on health care than those without the sleep disorder. One study from 2011 found that the average insomniac will spend 75 percent more on health care compared to good sleepers — $1,323 per year compared to $757.

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Measuring cost-effectiveness

Cost-effectiveness is typically measured using a tool known as the quality-adjusted life year (QALY). This measure considers the added life expectancy a treatment can provide, and the quality of life of the patient during those additional years.

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Rating cost-effective insomnia treatments

A 2015 review assessed the cost-effectiveness of a number of insomnia treatments based on QALY and the cost savings associated with certain treatments.

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Insomnia is less expensive to treat than to ignore

A majority of the studies reviewed found that treating insomnia was less expensive than not treating the condition. Pharmaceutical treatments and cognitive behavioral therapies were both found to be cost-effective.

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The cost-effectiveness of sleeping pills

Eszopiclone, low-dose trazodone, zolpidem, and zolpidem extended-release were all found to be cost-effective pharmaceutical insomnia treatments.

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Treating insomnia and depression

The review singled out one study that focused on insomniacs who were being treated for depression with fluoxetine. It found that fluoxetine was more cost-effective when combined with eszopiclone compared to treatment with fluoxetine alone.

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The cost-effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) was found to be significantly more cost-effective than sleeping pills. Over a period of six months, medical costs were approximately $200 lower for those who completed a program of CBTI.

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The specific benefit of CBTI

CBTI doesn’t come with the side-effects or risks associated with sleeping pills (such as an increased risk of falls), and the benefits of CBTI persist long after treatment ends. Sleeping pills are only effective when you take them, and are usually not recommended for long-term use.

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Do not ignore insomnia

As the authors of this review pointed out, insomnia can be treated — yet most insomniacs do not receive treatment. If you’re struggling with sleep, speak with your doctor. Your health (and your pocketbook) will thank you.