A cognitive behavioral therapy program to treat insomnia in older adults yielded positive results, including taking less time to fall asleep and less total wake time throughout the night.
In their study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the researchers assigned 159 people to one of three treatment groups. The participants were mostly white male veterans who ranged in age from 60- to 90-years-old.
The first two groups of people received CBTI from sleep coaches (who had a master’s degree in social work, public health, or communications) who had attended the special CBTI training. One group of people received one-on-one CBTI sessions with the sleep coach. The second group also received CBTI, but in a group format. People in the third group (the control group) received a general sleep education program, which also consisted of five one-hour sessions over six weeks. These people did not receive CBTI from sleep coaches.
During the five one-hour sessions over a six-week period, in both the one-on-one and group sessions, the coaches counseled participants about improving sleep habits and how to avoid practices that can make it harder to sleep well. 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. In both groups, the sleep coaches also had one weekly telephone call with a CBTI-trained psychologist to review how the participants were doing with the program.
Researchers collected information about the participants’ sleep habits at the beginning of the study and one week after treatments ended. They also followed up with participants six months and one year later.