Sleep Training Helps Ease Insomnia Tied to Arthritis

Cognitive behavioral therapy reduced pain and awakenings in study

THURSDAY, Aug. 20, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia helps improve pain and sleep in older people with osteoarthritis and insomnia, researchers say.

Their study included 23 patients (mean age 69) who received CBT-I and 28 patients (mean age 66.5) who were assigned to a control group that received information on stress management and wellness. The CBT-I program consisted of eight weekly two-hour classes in which they received sleep-training tips and exercises.

Patients in the CBT-I group reported significantly decreased time to fall asleep (an average decrease of 16.9 minutes at the beginning of the study and 11 minutes at one year after treatment). The cognitive behavioral therapy group also had a decrease in wake after sleep-onset times (an average of 37 minutes initially and 19.9 minutes one year later) and pain (improvement of 9.7 points initially and 4.7 points one year later). Increased sleep efficiency was also noted in the CBT-I group (improvement of 13 percent initially and 8 percent one year after treatment), the researchers found.

No significant improvements in any measure were reported in the control group.

The findings suggest that insomnia is not just a symptom of osteoarthritis but is actually a co-existing illness, lead study author Michael V. Vitiello, a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a news release. About 60 percent of people with osteoarthritis report pain during the night, and better sleep quality can reduce their suffering, he added.

"The particular strength of CBT-I is that once an individual learns how to improve their sleep, study after study has shown that the improvement persists for a year or more," Vitiello said in the news release.

The study appears in the Aug. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

This and other research shows that "CBT-I can not only improve sleep but that improvement of sleep may lead to improvement in co-existing medical or psychiatric illnesses, such as osteoarthritis or depression, and in the case of our study, that these additional benefits can be seen in the long term," Vitiello said.

More information

The Arthritis Foundation has more about osteoarthritis.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Published on August 20, 2009

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