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A placebo may be the key to treatment of insomnia

Harold Mandel's picture
Young woman suffering from insomnia

Researchers say that a simple placebo may serve as successful treatment for insomnia.


Insomnia is a very upsetting problem which can lead to problems functioning well during the day. It seems that a simple placebo often works well to cure this problem.

Nothing more than a placebo may be necessary to effectively treat insomnia

Oxford University Press USA has reported via EurekAlert that researchers have found nothing more than a placebo may be necessary to effectively treat insomnia. Consider that it was observed by the researchers that it may not actually be necessary to use complex neurofeedback to treat insomnia successfully. Instead it appears patients who just believe they are receiving neurofeedback training seem to obtain the same benefits.

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Insomnia is a widespread problem

Insomnia is a widespread problem which affects between 10 percent and 35 percent of people across the world. Furthermore, in spite of deep concerns about the potential for side effects from drugs to treat insomnia not many studies have focused on non-pharmacological approaches to this condition.

The researchers observed that both neurofeedback and placebo-feedback were equally effective as was reflected in subjective considerations of sleep complaints. It has been suggested observed improvements in insomnia may have been because of non-specific factors such as experiencing trust and being given care and empathy from researchers.

This study has been published in the journal Brain. The researchers did not discover any advantage for neurofeedback versus placebo feedback for the treatment of insomnia. Factors which were not specific such as experiencing trust and receiving care and empathy from researchers seemed important. It's good news for insomniacs that a placebo may actually cure this problem.