Program Improves Insomnia After Cancer Treatment

Therapy involves stimulus control, sleep restriction, and cognitive therapy strategies

THURSDAY, July 10 (HealthDay News) -- A cognitive behavior therapy program consisting of small group sessions teaching stimulus control, sleep restriction and cognitive therapy strategies can improve sleep in cancer patients dealing with insomnia post-treatment, according to the results of a study published online June 30 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Colin A. Espie, Ph.D., from the University of Glasgow Sleep Centre in the United Kingdom, and colleagues randomly assigned 150 patients with breast, prostate, colorectal or gynecological cancer who had insomnia after completing treatment to cognitive behavior therapy or treatment as usual (normal clinical practice). Sleep measures were assessed through a sleep diary.

The researchers found that cognitive behavior therapy was associated with a mean reduction in wakefulness of 55 minutes, which was sustained for six months. There was no change in the treatment-as-usual group. Cognitive behavior therapy was also associated with improvements in initiating and maintaining sleep, improving the percentage of time in bed spent asleep, and improving five of seven measures of quality of life, including reducing daytime fatigue. The effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy was not associated with any baseline demographic, clinical or sleep characteristics, the report indicates.

"Our results demonstrate sustained improvements in sleep with large effect sizes for subjectively estimated time taken to fall asleep and nocturnal wake time, comparable to the primary insomnia literature," Espie and colleagues conclude.

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