Sunday, October 08, 2006

Behavioral Therapy Gets Sleepless Seniors Snoozing

(HealthDay News) -- Brief behavioral treatment for insomnia may help bleary-eyed seniors get some much-needed sleep, a new study finds.

The study, by a team from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, included 17 older adults randomly assigned to receive short-term behavioral therapy and 18 others who were only given information on insomnia. Patients in both groups kept a sleep diary and completed doctor-administered and self-reported measures of sleep quality.

The interventions were delivered in one session, followed by a "booster" session two weeks later. The patients were reassessed four weeks after the initial intervention session.
As reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 71 percent of patients in the therapy group showed significant improvements in sleep measures and in daytime symptoms of anxiety and depression, compared to 39 percent of those in the information-only group.

The study also found that 53 percent of those in the therapy group met the criteria for insomnia remission, compared to 17 percent of the people in the information group.

"These preliminary findings are consistent with previous studies that have shown that brief behavioral insomnia interventions can be efficacious, and remain efficacious in older adults," the study authors wrote.

Insomnia affects nearly half of adults aged 60 and older. Sleep problems in older adults can lead to depressed mood, attention and memory deficits, excessive daytime sleepiness, greater risk of nighttime falls, and increased used of over-the-counter and prescription sleep drugs.

More information
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about insomnia.

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