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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy effective for insomnia in older people

3rd November 2016

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Insomnia is a debilitating sleep condition which affects millions of people across the UK. But now a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has proven cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is effective in reducing the insomnia in older adults.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is commonly prescribed by GP’s to people suffering from depression, anxiety or phobias as a way to reduce and slowly, yet effectively, overcome the symptoms. Now, CBT-I is proving to do the same for older people suffering from insomnia. 

The study which focused its research on 159 participants, who were mostly white male veterans aged between 60 and 90 years-old were split into three groups. Two of these groups received CBT-I from sleep coaches. The third group received one-to-one CBT-I sessions with the sleep coach.

Over the five one-hour sessions during a six week period, the participants were counselled about improving their sleeping patterns, habits and how to avoid lifestyle practices that could affect either of these. As Sleep Review commented: “This involved learning techniques such as using the bed only for sleeping, not for watching TV or reading, limiting the amount of time in bed so sleep becomes more consolidated, and other techniques.”

Insomnia has been linked to other serious health conditions, and can be a cause of falls in older people. Not only this, but the risk of older people falling are is heightened if individuals don’t get enough sleep, and although home stairlifts can be an effective way to prevent them, getting the help from your GP is just as essential.

The researchers found that all three groups “had lessened their sleep problems significantly, compared to people in the control group.”

These improvements showed that participants took 23 minutes less to fall asleep and total awake time was about 68 minutes less throughout the night and therefore the treatment improved sleep quality for older people. Although the research was conducted on male veterans, it is always worth talking with your GP and considering the therapy options to reduce the symptoms of insomnia, no matter what your gender, ethnicity or age.