Insomnia Treatment Gets Thumbs Up for Patients with Additional Conditions

While cognitive behavioral therapy has been used to treat patients with insomnia, evidence backing the treatment for those who also have other psychiatric and medical conditions has not been available until now.

While cognitive behavioral therapy has been used to treat patients with insomnia, evidence backing the treatment for those who also have other psychiatric and medical conditions has not been available until now.

Previous research has indicated that cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective nonpharmacologic alternative to improving sleep for those with insomnia. Lead author Jason C. Ong, PhD, and colleagues examined the literature to determine if the same could be said for patients with insomnia who also have co-existing conditions. The findings were published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The team reviewed 37 studies that enrolled 2,189 patients who underwent cognitive behavioral therapy. All participants had insomnia along with psychiatric conditions such as alcohol dependence, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and/or medical conditions such as chronic pain, cancer, and fibromyalgia.

Overall, a reduction in insomnia symptoms and sleep disturbances were observed among the patients. When they were evaluated following treatment, nearly twice the percentage of patients were in remission from insomnia when compared to those in the controlled groups.

“The authors note sleep disturbances may be more strongly associated with cognitive-emotional symptoms than physical symptoms, so reducing sleep disturbance could have a strong effect on psychiatric illness,” a news release explained.

Furthermore, the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy on insomnia were associated with the type of additional illness. The meta-analysis showed that patients with psychiatric disorders experienced more improvement than those with a medical condition.

“These findings provide empirical support for the recommendation of using CBT-I (cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia) as the treatment of choice for comorbid insomnia disorders,” the authors concluded.