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Online Therapy Improves Sleep

Online Therapy Improves SleepA Web-based insomnia intervention using established face-to-face cognitive behavioral therapy techniques appears to improve patients’ sleep.

About one-third of adults report symptoms of insomnia and approximately 10 percent meet diagnostic criteria for an insomnia disorder, according to background information in the article.

The condition decreases quality of life, impairs daytime functioning, has personal and public health consequences and results in an estimated $41 billion in reduced productivity every year.

Cognitive behavioral therapy—a psychological treatment focusing on the behaviors and dysfunctional thoughts that contribute to sleep problems—is one of the most effective treatments for insomnia.

“Unfortunately, availability of cognitive behavioral therapy is severely limited for many reasons, including lack of trained clinicians, poor geographical distribution of knowledgeable professionals, expense and inaccessibility to treatment and clinicians,” the authors write.

Lee M. Ritterband, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, and colleagues evaluated the effectiveness of an Internet intervention based on cognitive behavioral therapy techniques among 44 adults (average age 44.9) who had a history of sleep difficulties lasting longer than 10 years on average.

A total of 22 participants were randomly assigned to a control group and 22 received the Internet intervention, SHUTi. The highly interactive nine-week program uses text, graphics, animations, vignettes, quizzes and games to present behavioral, educational and cognitive techniques for improving sleep.

For instance, patients were advised to avoid reading and watching television in the bedroom, stop daytime napping and change unhelpful beliefs and thoughts (including worries about the consequences of insomnia) that may exacerbate sleep difficulties.

Participants completed daily sleep diaries before and after the intervention and also rated their symptoms on the seven-item Insomnia Severity Index, which produces a score from zero (no symptoms) to 28 (severe insomnia). Among individuals who received the intervention, scores on the index improved from 15.73 to 6.59, whereas scores did not change for the control group. These gains were maintained at a six-month follow-up assessment.

“An Internet intervention has the potential of meeting the large unmet treatment need of the population with insomnia by providing effective treatment through the Web,” they continue.

“An effective and inexpensive Internet intervention would expand treatment options for large numbers of adults with insomnia, especially those whose geographical location prohibits access to relevant care, and could be a substantive first-line treatment choice.”

The report is found in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Online Therapy Improves Sleep

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Online Therapy Improves Sleep. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/07/08/online-therapy-improves-sleep/6969.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.