A Little One-on-One Time

Individual therapy helps seniors with insomnia

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Scientists find that individualized therapy is more beneficial for older adults suffering from insomnia, helping patients to overcome their symptoms for up to six months.

Insomnia affects between 15 and 35 percent of older adults in the United States. People with insomnia have trouble falling asleep or getting ample restorative sleep, leading to irritability, fatigue and cognitive impairments during waking hours.

A recent trial that combined in-person and over-the-phone therapy proved to be helpful for up to for six months in treating insomnia in older adults. This would be an ideal alternative to current treatments using drug, which put older people at increased risk of fall and hip fractures.

The study enrolled 79 adults with a median age of 71.7 and offered 39 of them individual behavioral therapy consisting of two face-to-face sessions and two phone sessions. The other 40 participants received only print material (you'd think that medical reading material would do the trick).

To get baseline sleep information (the control), everyone enrolled in the study kept a sleep diary and were monitored with various devices when asleep over a two week period before the study (as a control) and then four weeks after starting the therapy. The majority of patients who received the individualized therapy reported either an improvement for their insomnia or showed signs of being cured completely.

The authors of the study speculate that patients seem to improve a lot more due to the context of the therapy: calling it "behavioral" takes away the "stigma" associated with something dubbed "psychological." The simplification of the process also makes it easier for patients to follow.

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Review Date: 
January 26, 2011
Last Updated:
January 27, 2011