A Preliminary Evaluation of the Physiological Mechanisms of Action for Sleep Restriction Therapy
Our objective was to investigate the physiological mechanisms involved in the sleep restriction treatment of insomnia. A multiple baseline across subjects design was used. Sleep of five participants suffering from insomnia was assessed throughout the experimentation by sleep diaries and actigraphy. Ten nights of polysomnography were conducted over five occasions. The first two-night assessment served to screen for sleep disorders and to establish a baseline for dependent measures. Three assessments were undertaken across the treatment interval, with the fifth and last one coming at follow-up. Daily cortisol assays were obtained. Sleep restriction therapy was applied in-lab for the first two nights of treatment and was subsequently supervised weekly. Interrupted time series analyses were computed on sleep diary data and showed a significantly decreased wake time, increased sleep efficiency, and decreased total sleep time. Sleepiness at night seems positively related to sleep variables, polysomnography data suggest objective changes mainly for stage 2, and power spectral analysis shows a decrease in beta-1 and -2 powers for the second night of treatment. Cortisol levels seem to be lower during treatment. These preliminary results confirm part of the proposed physiological mechanisms and suggest that sleep restriction contributes to a rapid decrease in hyperarousal insomnia.