Insomnia treatment that's delivered through
a Web-based programme or video conference may help people feel less tired during
the day, according to a small study from Canada.
Researchers found over half of people who
had chronic insomnia at the start of the study no longer had severe difficulty
functioning after receiving therapy through one of those methods.
"I think the biggest takeaway is...
cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for insomnia can be delivered effectively
in a variety of formats – not just face to face but also using different technologies
and even self-directed," Maxine Holmqvist, the study's lead author, told
She is an assistant professor at University
of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
Read: insomnia increases death risk
More than one-quarter of people in the US
report not getting enough sleep every now and then, according to the Centres
for Disease Control and Prevention. About one in 10 Americans reports chronic
Symptoms of chronic insomnia include
regularly having trouble falling asleep, waking up too early in the morning and
waking up in the middle of the night. This often results in people feeling
tired during the day.
One treatment for chronic insomnia is CBT,
which consists of therapist-guided sessions that teach people methods to help
them get better sleep. Those sessions include lessons about insomnia,
relaxation techniques, ignoring stimuli and creating good sleeping habits.
Read: CBT – the facts
Accessibility of treatment
People who live in rural areas may not have
access to such therapy, however.
For people without easily accessible
treatment, video conferencing (also known as telehealth) is sometimes used in
Canada to bring together patients and doctors, write the researchers in the
journal Sleep Medicine.
There is also some evidence, they write,
that CBT can be delivered through the Internet.
For the new study, the researchers
recruited 73 adults living in a rural Canadian province and randomly assigned
them to either receive CBT through an Internet-based program or through a group
video conference at clinics near their homes.
At the start of the study, all of the
participants had insomnia, according to a questionnaire that scores how well a
person functions during the day.
Read: 6 ways to prevent insomnia
Treatments show promise
After six CBT sessions delivered over six
weeks, the researchers found that 55% of the telehealth group and about 62%of
the Web-based treatment group no longer scored high enough on the questionnaire
to be considered to have insomnia.
The researchers write that the difference
in results between the two delivery methods could have been due to chance. With
more people they may be able to say whether one works better than the other.
"Overall, our study suggests that both
Web- and telehealth-based treatments of insomnia show promise and are worthy of
further development and study," they write.
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