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Self-administered CBT 'improves insomnia'

A self-help advice programme, based on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, can reduce insomnia symptoms, say UK researchers.

The trial comprised 193 primary care patients aged 55 to 87 and with chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, heart disease and cancer. All patients had moderate to severe levels of insomnia according to the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and were randomised to either self-help or a control group that received usual care.

The self-help group received six consecutive self-help booklets and a telephone helpline providing advice on managing insomnia, such as developing good sleep hygiene, and advice about improving their thinking about sleep.

This group had significantly improved sleep quality compared with the control group, with mean scores of 3.9 and 1.3, respectively. The self-help group also had significantly improved sleep efficiency scores, with a mean score of 14.6 compared to 2.1 in the control group.

But there was no difference in the levels of daytime fatigue, compared with controls.

The study’s authors concluded: ‘The self-help approach evaluated here could provide an accessible and convenient first-line treatment delivered within the context of a stepped-care model.’

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 2012, online 5 October

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