Thursday, February 9, 2012

Intensive Sleep Retraining Offers Rapid Improvement for Insomniacs

Intensive sleep retraining (ISR) may help insomniacs get the rest they need. Sleep researchers in Australia studied 79 volunteers with chronic sleep-onset insomnia (with and without sleep maintenance dificulties), randomly assigning them to intensive sleep retraining (ISR), stimulus control therapy (SCT), ISR plus SCT, or a control group.  

IRS consists of 25 hours divided into 50 30-minute sessions. During each one, the person tries to fall asleep. If successful, the participant is woken up after just three minutes of sleep, asked if he or she had been asleep, and told that he or she had indeed fallen asleep. The sleep deprivation that builds up over the course of this pattern helps even the most hard-core insomniac fall asleep a few times. The goal of the therapy is to help people feel what it’s like to fall asleep rapidly and learn that they can do it. All three active treatment groups had significant improvements in sleep onset and total sleep time, compared to controls, but ISR provided the most rapid improvement. The researchers, who published their results in the January 1 Sleep, said eventual development of home-based versions of ISR should make it more widely available.

Recent concerns have been raised over the use of the antipsychotic quetiapine as a sleep aid. Read more here in Psychiatric News.

(Image: takayuki/


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