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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 13:25 EDT

Trouble Sleeping? Try Counseling

January 26, 2011

By Rhonda Craig, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent

(Ivanhoe Newswire) — A new report shows that brief counseling sessions can help improve insomnia in older adults.

According to background information in the article, insomnia affects anywhere from 15 to 35 percent of older adults. For the research, Daniel J. Buysse, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and his colleagues, conducted a randomized clinical trial that involved 79 insomniacs (all over the age of 60). Thirty-nine received treatment that was made up of individualized behavioral instruction. Throughout four sessions (two in person, two by phone), a clinician examined those patients’ sleep patterns and made specific behavioral recommendations on how they could change them to improve their sleep quality. The remaining adults were given only general educational material about insomnia and sleep habits.

All of the participants kept two-week sleep diaries and underwent sleep assessments before treatment and four weeks after. After four weeks, about 65 percent of individuals who received the brief behavioral treatment showed a favorable response, and about 55 percent were classified as no longer having insomnia.

“I think the bottom line is that behavioral treatments for insomnia can be very effective, and they don’t have to be prolonged and complicated. There are some very simple strategies that can help a lot of people who have this common sleep problem,” Dr. Buysse told Ivanhoe.

Based on the results, the authors were able to estimate that for every 2.4 patients treated, one would respond favorably, and one would no longer meet criteria for insomnia. Dr. Buysse says he believes the treatment can be effective for all age groups.

“Our particular study focused on older adults, but we don’t think the effects of these treatments are limited to older adults,” Buysse concluded.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, January 24, 2011