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Telephone delivered therapy could help treat insomnia

Filed in
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • poor sleep
  • Insomnia

By Lynn Celmer  |  Mar 08, 2013
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A new study found that telephone delivered cognitive behavioral therapy for the treatment of chronic insomnia (CBTI) helped improve sleep quality.

"These results are important, because they provide preliminary support for the efficacy and sustainability of telephone-delivered CBTI," said Dr. J. Todd Arnedt, associate professor of psychiatry and neurology and Director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at the University of Michigan Hospital and Health Systems in Ann Arbor, Mich. and principal investigator and lead author of the study. "If replicated in larger controlled studies, the telephone could be integrated as an effective modality for disseminating CBTI on a broader scale."

The study, which was published in the March issue of the journal SLEEP, was a randomized controlled trial that involved 30 individuals with chronic insomnia who received either telephone delivered cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI-Phone) or an information pamphlet control (IPC).

Results show that CBTI-Phone improved sleep quality and cognitions related to insomnia more than an IPC. More CBTI-Phone than IPC participants were also classified as “treatment responders” at post-treatment and were “in remission” from insomnia at 12-week follow-up. Moreover, researchers found that 80 percent of CBTI-Phone participants (12 of 15) continued to be classified as "in remission" from insomnia 12 weeks after treatment completion.

"The most surprising thing about the results was that participants in the IPC group showed improvements of a similar magnitude on many sleep and daytime symptom assessments to CTI-Phone participants," said Dr. Arnedt. "There may have been overlap in the material presented in the pamphlet used and the telephone sessions, but these findings could also suggest that an educational pamphlet with brief focused phone follow-up might be a cost-effective, efficacious and minimally burdensome intervention for certain insomnia patients."

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine considers sleep disorders an illness that has reached epidemic proportions. Board-certified sleep medicine physicians in an AASM-accredited sleep center provide effective treatment. AASM encourages patients to talk to their doctors about sleep problems or visit for a searchable directory of sleep centers.