September 3, 2008

Sleep Therapy May Help Those With Insomnia

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, Dutch researchers said cognitive deficits were reversed after six weeks of sleep therapy.

The study, published in the journal Sleep, found that cognitive processes related to verbal fluency are compromised in people with insomnia despite the absence of a behavioral deficit. However, these specific brain function alterations can be reversed through non-pharmacological treatment with sleep therapy, the study said.

The study authors suggest sleep therapy may be a low-cost, non-pharmacological intervention for insomnia.

"It was surprising to see that the patients performed at a higher level than the control group, but showed reduced brain activation in their fMRI results," principal investigator Ysbrand Der Werf of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam said in a statement. "The success during the task may reflect a conscious effort to counteract the effect of poor sleep."

The study matched 21 patients -- average age of 61 -- with chronic insomnia and 12 healthy controls. Therapy involved a combination of sleep restriction, multifaceted cognitive-behavior therapy, morning and late afternoon bright-light exposure and body temperature manipulations.