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Treating primary insomnia: A comparative study of self-help methods and progressive muscle relaxation

  • Iuliu Haţieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy Cluj Napoca

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Insomnia is one of the most prevalent psychological disorders worldwide. Some of the deficiencies of the current treatments of insomnia are: side effects in the case of sleeping pills and high costs in the case of psychotherapeutic treatment. Some suggest that self-help treatments could be a viable alternative, with certain advantages such as low cost, and wide accessibility to a large number of people. In our study we used a modified Latin square experimental design for single subject research to verify the effect of multi-component treatment efficiency in primary insomnia. Another goal of our study was to compare the effects of the three treatment techniques (progressive muscle relaxation, sleep hygiene, binaural beats) included in the multi-component intervention package. Our results reflect the efficiency of the multi-component treatment. Significant differences were found only between muscle relaxation and binaural beat. Based on effects size measures we can say that muscle relaxation and sleep hygiene have a very similar effect. The effect of binaural beat treatment is lower than that of the other two types of intervention.
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Treating primary insomnia 67
Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies,
Vol. 9, No. 1, March 2009, 67-82.
Bogdan Vasile ALEXANDRU
, Balázsi RÓBERT
Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Insomnia is one of the most prevalent psychological disorders worldwide.
Some of the deficiencies of the current treatments of insomnia are: side
effects in the case of sleeping pills and high costs in the case of
psychotherapeutic treatment. Some suggest that self-help treatments could
be a viable alternative, with certain advantages such as low cost, and wide
accessibility to a large number of people. In our study we used a modified
Latin square experimental design for single subject research to verify the
effect of multi-component treatment efficiency in primary insomnia.
Another goal of our study was to compare the effects of the three treatment
techniques (progressive muscle relaxation, sleep hygiene, binaural beats)
included in the multi-component intervention package. Our results reflect
the efficiency of the multi-component treatment. Significant differences
were found only between muscle relaxation and binaural beat. Based on
effects size measures we can say that muscle relaxation and sleep hygiene
have a very similar effect. The effect of binaural beat treatment is lower
than that of the other two types of intervention.
Keywords: insomnia, single subject experiment, progressive muscular
relaxation, sleep hygiene, binaural beats
Insomnia is a disorder characterized by the qualitative reduction of the sleep
duration and efficacy (Morin, Hauri, Espie, Spielman, Buysse, & Bootzin, 1999;
Pallesen, 2003). Out of all psychological disorders, insomnia displays some of the
highest prevalence rates, epidemiological data reporting frequencies as high as
22% (Stinson et al., 2006) and even 33% (Harvey, 2001). Insomnia causes severe
distress, social, interpersonal and professional dysfunction (Harvey, 2002). It
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to:
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Alexandru V. Bogdan, Róbert Balázsi, Viorel Lupu & Vasile Bogdan 68
affects well-being and the quality of life (Espie, 1991) and is often associated
with affective disorders, such as irritability and dysphoria (Morin, 2003). The
impredictibility and incontrolability of the sleeping pattern can lead to feelings of
helplessness and to the onset of depressive and anxiety disorders (Morin, 2003;
Neckelmann, 2007). Longitudinal studies conducted by Ford & Kamerow (1989)
showed that persistent untreated insomnia can be a risk factor in the development
of the major depressive disorder.
The global expenses for the treatment of insomnia and its consequences rise
to several billion dollars. For example, in the United States, the cost of insomnia
treatments in 2004 rose to over 2.1 billion dollars, and it is estimated to reach 3.2
billion dollars in 2009 (Gershell, 2006). A cost harder to quantify is due to the
decrease of daytime performance of people affected by insomnia, due to the
reduction of the cognitive and motor performances (Mendelson, Garnett, Gillin &
Weingartner, 1984), as well as to the high rates of work absence (Johnson &
Spinveber, 1983).
Theoretical models in the literature generally attribute insomnia to certain
activating factors that interfere with the sleeping pattern. These factors can be
organized along two dimensions: a. physiological, emotional and cognitive
activation; b. the general level of activation of the person and the person’s
tendency to respond with activation to aversive life events. These models only
consider certain factors in isolation, such as psychological, emotional and
cognitive hyperactivity, level of arousal, excitability and habituation to stimuli,
and the role of the activating events.
According to the integrative model of insomnia recently proposed by Lundh
and Broman (2000), an essential component in the development and maintenance
of insomnia is the physiological and cognitive arousal before sleep. The
physiological processes of sleep interference are those that influence a person’s
sleeping pattern, independently of the way the person interprets the sleeping
pattern and of daytime events (traumatic or stressful events, emotional conflicts,
depression, worries). Psychological insomnia processes influence the way the
person interprets sleep fluctuations, difficulties and daytime events (personal
standards, beliefs and attitudes). The validity of the model was checked by a
series of studies that investigated: the relationship between rumination, mood and
sleep quality (Thomsen, 2003), the efficacy of meta-cognitive observations
during insomnia (Lundh, 2002), the impact of acceptance and mindfulness
therapies in the treatment of insomnia (Lundh, 2005).
At present, the most frequently recommended treatment for occasional
insomnias is medication, but not for chronic insomnia (Jacobs, 2004). This is due
to the side-effects of medication and to the decrease in its efficacy after long
periods of treatment. One of the effects of sleeping pills is the modification of
sleep structure (Morin, 2003). Benzodiazepines improve sleep continuity and, at
the same time, they increase the length of the first two stages of sleep, and
decrease the length of the third and fourth stages (Morin, 2003). This sleeping
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Treating primary insomnia 69
pattern is also observed in the elderly and is perceived as superficial and non-
resting (Morin, 2003). Frequently, high medication levels produces a toxic state
associated with psycho-motor and cognitive delay (Grad, 1995; Roehrs, Merlotti,
Zorick, & Roth, 1994). Side-effects are also noticed in the case of more recent
drugs (Aragona, 2000), and, consequently, their use is not recommended for a
period longer than four weeks (Holm & Goa, 2000).
Beginning with the 1980s, research on sleep disorders, insomnia in particular,
was oriented towards the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral interventions.
Cognitive behavior therapy includes various combinations of cognitive and
behavioral interventions. The cognitive component is aimed at changing the
patients’ beliefs and attitudes regarding insomnia. The behavioral component
usually includes relaxation training (Morgenthaler et al., 2006). Relaxation
training involves methods which focus on reducing physiological arousal (e.g.,
progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training) or intrusive thoughts that occur
around bedtime and that interfere with sleep (Lick & Heffler, 1977).
The superiority of cognitive-behavioral interventions as opposed to
medication was proven in several studies (Morin & Schwartz, 1994). A recent
study comparing cognitive-behavioral therapy with Zopiclone (Sivertsen, Omvik,
Pallesen et al., 2006), highlights the superiority of the psychological interventions
over medication. Thus, cognitive-behavioral therapy improved three of the four
investigated parameters, while medication (i.e., Zopiclone) did not lead to
significant changes compared to the placebo group.
Meta-analyses show that these interventions generally produce significant and
long lasting sleep improvements in insomniacs (Morin, Culbert, & Schwartz,
1994; Murtagh & Greenwood, 1995). The Data confirm a significant modification
in the following parameters: sleep latency, and time awake after sleep onset, as a
consequence of this type of intervention.
In their review, Morgenthaler et al. (2006) summarize several studies that
have shown the effectiveness of relaxation methods, even when not combined
with cognitive interventions (Edinger et al., 2001; Lichstein et al., 2001; Means et
al., 2000). These results are also confirmed by a study conducted by Lichstein &
Johnson (1993) that reports a reduction in the dose of medication required by the
relaxation group. Relaxation also proved efficient in improving the sleeping
pattern usually found in the elderly (Riedel & Lichstein, 2001; Rybarczyk et al.,
Validation studies of cognitive-behavioral interventions are scored with a
high coefficient on the Sackett scale (Sackett, 1993), making this form of
intervention the standard recommendation (Morgenthaler et al., 2006). But even
though the psychological treatment is quite efficient, it is limited in terms of
accessibility. Thus, surveys show that 85% of the individuals affected by
insomnia remain untreated, due to the lack of information or due to financial
reasons (Sivertsen, Omvik, Pallesen et al., 2006). In order to facilitate the access
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Alexandru V. Bogdan, Róbert Balázsi, Viorel Lupu & Vasile Bogdan 70
to these cognitive-behavioral programs, they are often offered on internet (Strom,
Pettersson, & Andersson, 2004; Ritterband, 2008).
An alternative to psychotherapy is the self-help treatment, based on
psychological techniques. This intervention method has the advantage of
disseminating information about insomnia to a greater number of people, at a
fairly low cost. Generally, these types of programs are a synthesis of cognitive-
behavioral interventions and those aimed at life-style change (Oosterhuis, 1993;
Morin, 1994; Harvey, 2000).
Studies investigating the impact of self-help insomnia treatments are quite
scarce in the literature. These studies indicate that this kind of intervention is
useful in the reduction of the sleep onset insomnia. Among the techniques used in
these studies are: brochures or manuals and TV programs offering information
about sleep physiology, sleep hygiene, relaxation and stimulus control (Alperson
& Biglan, 1979; Morawetz, 1989; Morin, 1999, 2005; Riedel, Lichstein, &
Dwyer, 1995).
A more recent meta-analysis of Smith et al. (2002) compared stimulus
control interventions with medication. The effect size for subjective measures of
sleep latencies, number of awakenings, wake time after sleep onset, total sleep
time and sleep quality before and after treatment was medium to high. A meta-
analysis on elderly individuals suffering from a sleep disorder confirmed the
validity of the conclusions. Beyond the fact that the improvement of the sleeping
pattern is clinically significant, it is also long lasting (Pallesen, Nordhus, & Kvale,
In which the education for sleep hygiene is concerned, this strategy is
often incorporated in the treatment of insomnia with the aim of preventing
possible interference from poor sleep hygiene. Data show that, in the absence of
some supplementary intervention methods, the education for the sleep hygiene
has a reduced therapeutic value (Engle-Friedman, Bootzin, Hazlewood, & Tsao,
1992; Guilleminault, Clerk, Black, Labanowski, Pelayo, & Claman, 1995). This
was also confirmed by a meta-analysis conducted by Straten & Cujpers (2009)
who found a small to medium size effect for all sleep parameters.
Programs based on the use of binaural beats music are another type of
self-help intervention. Binaural beats are auditory responses of the cerebral trunk
that originate in the olivary nuclei of the cerebral trunk. They are the result of the
interaction of two separate auditory impulses received from the two ears. The
frequency of the tones must be below about 1,000 to 1,500 hertz for the beating to
be heard. The difference between the two frequencies must be small (below about
30 Hz) for the effect to occur; otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately
and no beat will be perceived (Oster, 1973). Normally, the frequency difference
would offer information about the direction from which the sound comes, but in
the moment of the head set hearing, the brain integrates information about the two
signals, producing the sensation of the third sound, the binaural beat (Oster,
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Treating primary insomnia 71
According to the model of the extended reticular ascendant activator
system (Newman & Baars, 1993; Newman, 1997), binaural beats generate
modifications in the cortical and subjective conscious experience EEG pattern, as
the cortical-thalamic projections adapt the signals that came from the reticular
formation (Atwater, 2001). This auditory sensation is directed towards the
reticular formation (Swann et al., 1982) and, at the same time, to the cortex,
where it can be objectively measured in frequency (Oster 1973, Smith, Marsh, &
Brown 1975; Smith et al., 1978; Hink et al., 1980).
There are many neurophysiological studies which have documented the
underlying mechanisms of the binaural beats (Newman, 1993, 1997; Oster, 1973;
Smith, 1975, 1978). Despite this fact, the clinical utility of binaural beats is still a
issue of controversy (Iuga & Bogdan, 2008). Binaural beats music has proved
efficient in the management of certain psychological disorders such as alcoholism
(Saxby & Peniston, 1995), neurological conditions (e.g., aphasia) (Barr, Mullin &
Herbert, 1977), and preoperative anxiety (Padmanabhan, Hildreth, & Laws,
Concerning its effectiveness in primary insomnia, to our knowledge, there is
only one published research paper. Thus, Levin (1998) records significant pre-
post treatment differences as a consequence of using binaural beats for all the
sleep quality parameters.
Taking into consideration the prevalence of this disorder in the case of adults
(DSM-IV) and the fact that insomnia is not considered a serious enough factor to
justify the call for psychological assistance (especially because of the stigma
associated with these interventions; Stinson et al., 2006), the present study aims to
validate the efficacy of two self-help programs (one based on sleep hygiene and
one based on binaural beats), as compared to a behavioral technique whose
efficacy has already been validated (i.e., progressive relaxation).
The study addressed the following questions: (1) Do patients undergoing a
multi-component treatment improve compared to a baseline level? (2) Will there
be any difference in terms of treatment effect between the three treatment
approaches (sleep hygiene, binaural beats and progressive muscle relaxation)?
Participants were recruited from the records of a general practitioner’s
office and by advertisements posted on the psychology students’ groups of the
Department of Psychology at the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca. The
selection was comprised of two consecutive phases. In the first phase the
participants who presented evidence: a) of another sleep disorder, other than
insomnia; b) that the sleep disorder was determined by physiological problems,
which interfered with sleep; c) of frequent use of sleeping medication; d) of
working on shifts, were excluded from the study.
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Alexandru V. Bogdan, Róbert Balázsi, Viorel Lupu & Vasile Bogdan 72
In the second phase participants that remained in the study were evaluated
for their match related to the inclusion criteria: a) aged between 18 and 60; b)
sleep onset insomnia or sleep maintaining insomnia (sleep onset latency or time
spent awake after sleep onset greater than 30 minutes per night for a minimum of
3 nights per week); c) insomnia lasting for at least 1 month; d) discontent
regarding the effects of insomnia during the day (e.g., fatigue, mood disorders,
functional impairments). These criteria are a combination of the diagnostic
criteria described by The International Classification of Sleep Disorders (ICSD)
(American Sleep Disorders Association, 1990) and by the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) for primary insomnia.
After applying the exclusion criteria, three women, aged 22 (Participant
1), 24 (Participant 2) and 30 (Participant 3) were included in the study.
Experimental design
A modified latin square experimental design for single subject research
was used. As it can be seen Table 1, the design involves a baseline recording
stage (S1), 3 intervention stages (S2, S3 and S4) and a final stage of recording the
persistence of the effect over time. (S5). The three participants were randomly
assigned to each treatment sequence (see Table 1).
Tabel 1. Study Design
Participant/Stage Baseline Intervention Follow-up
S1 S2 S3 S4 S5
Participant 1 B HS MR BB PI
Participant 2 B BB HS MR PI
Participant 3 B MR BB HS PI
S1-S5 – experimental stages, B – baseline, SH – sleep hygiene, MR – muscle relaxation,
BB- binaural beats, and PI – post intervention evaluation.
The design contains one random effect variable (Participant) and two
fixed effect variables (Stage and Treatment). The carryover effect was not taken
into account because the design is not a replicated Latin square. This effect will
be estimated indirectly from the Stage x Treatment interaction. The dependent
variable of the study was sleep onset time.
The data collection procedure run over a period of 50 days, divided into
five 10-day stages. In the first 10 days of the experiment (baseline stage) and the
last 10 days (follow-up) each participant monitored their sleep pattern, recording
the relevant parameters in the sleep. In stages 2-4 (treatment phases) each subject
received the treatment procedure corresponding to that stage (see Table 1), and
recorded their sleep pattern in the sleep diary. In each phase, the therapeutic
intervention was supervised by a certified psychological counselor.
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In the sleep hygiene condition subjects were instructed, during a one hour
session, how to apply, on a day-to-day basis, the principles of stimulus control,
fostering a healthy lifestyle, favorable to satisfactory sleep, as well as how to use
sleep restriction. At the end of the session they were given the sleep hygiene
brochure as a reminder for all the principles discussed.
In the progressive muscle relaxation condition, subjects were listening to
an audio tape containing a relaxation session. The length of a relaxation session
was based on the standards of an abbreviated progressive muscle relaxation
session (30 minutes) (Bernstein, 2007). Before the intervention stage there was a
learning session in which the participants learned how to apply the relaxation
technique, supervised by the same psychological counselor.
In the binaural beats condition the subjects were listening to an audio tape
containing binaural beat music. The length of the binaural beats music was
matched to the length of the muscle relaxation session. Subjects were instructed to
listen the tapes each day while lying in bed before sleep. Before the intervention
stage there was an informative session regarding the underlying mechanism of
binaural beats and the proper methodology of using the tape.
In order to get an accurate idea of how the intervention was going,
subjects were interviewed regarding their difficulties with the treatment procedure
of the corresponding stage every three days. The minor difficulties that appeared
during the implementation of the treatment were solved by short correction
periods, which did not exceed the standard limits of the interventions.
Measures and materials
The Sleep Diary used in this study is an adapted version of Morin (2003).
It is a practical and economical instrument, frequently used in the sleep research
(Lacks & Morin, 1992; Lichenstein & Riedel, 1994). The sleep diary included
information regarding: bedtime, wake time, sleep onset, the number of
awakenings during the night, time spent awake during the night, time spent asleep
during the day. Because the main sleep problem of each participant was sleep
onset insomnia we focused our attention on a single item of the sleep diary,
namely sleep onset. Many studies have shown that subjective estimation on the
sleep onset item gives a reliable and valid index of insomnia, even though it does
not reflect the absolute values obtained by polysomnography (Coates et al., 1982).
The sleep hygiene brochure adapted after Morin (2003) contained: a short
introduction regarding the neurological mechanisms of sleep and healthy lifestyle
factors that facilitate a good night sleep; myths about sleep; rules for a good night
sleep; healthy sleep related lifestyle and the proper environment for sleep.
The progressive muscle relaxation audio tape was based on a protocol
that contained suggestions regarding the sequential relaxation/tension of thirteen
muscle groups, while being aware of the differences between the two states
(Bernstein, 2007). There is extensive empirical evidence that a similar relaxation
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Alexandru V. Bogdan, Róbert Balázsi, Viorel Lupu & Vasile Bogdan 74
protocol was used with success in the treatment of various psychological
disorders (Sherman, 1979; Cheung et. al., 2002).
The binaural beats audio tape used is a product of Brainsync, by Kelly
Howell, and it is called Sound Sleep. The basic principle on which binaural beats
audio tapes are based is a progressive process that begins with a frequency
difference, between the two sounds arriving at the two ears, which correspond to
the brainwaves that characterize the actual state of consciousness (awake). From
this point onward, the frequency difference is reduced progressively until it
reaches the values of the brainwaves typical to deep sleep state (theta / delta
waves) (Thaut, 2003). Binaural beats music has been previously used in the
management of some psychological disorders, such as alcoholism (Saxby &
Peniston, 1995), neurological conditions (e.g., aphasia) (Barr, Mullin, & Herbert,
1977), and preoperative anxiety (Padmanabhan, Hildreth, & Laws, 2005). To our
knowledge, this is the first study attempting to validate its efficacy in sleep
Data processing involved three phases. In the first phase we checked the
resemblance of our data with the assumptions that would allow us to perform
linear statistical models (Morley & Adams, 1989). In the second phase we
verified if the therapeutic intervention as a whole had an effect, by statistically
comparing the baseline, treatment and follow-up phase. Finally, in the third phase
we used a GLM model for a latin square design to estimate the relative efficiency
of each treatment procedure (Kutner, Nachtscheim, Neter, & Li, 2005).
Following Morley and Adams (1989) we applied to each baseline data
set: the Turning Point Test (Bradley, 1968) to evaluate if the baseline data only
reflect random fluctuations of performance, with no regularity or specific
tendency; and the Record Test (Foster & Stewart, 1954), which verifies if there is
a tendency or a change in baseline variance. Results are shown in Table 2.
Tabel 2. The results of the Turning Point Test and the Record Test for each participant’s
baseline scores
Turning Points Test Record test
T p d z s p
Participant 1 5 0.54 2 1.01 4 0.70
Participant 2 5 0.54 0 0.00 4 0.70
Participant 3 5 0.54 0 0.00 2 0.14
All the cumulative distributions of the statistics presented in Table 2
followed the normal distribution, and as such, their values and cumulative
probabilities could be interpreted as any other z test. The turning points test
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Treating primary insomnia 75
column indicates that neither of the computed p value drops below the critical
value p=.05, meaning that baselines data reflect random fluctuations only
(Kratochwill & Levin, 1992). This conclusion is confirmed by the other statistics
in the table: the z value calculated for each d test and the probability associated
with each s tests. All values are statistically insignificant, meaning that there are
no signs of tendency or variance fluctuations in the baseline.
To confirm these patterns we computed an autocorrelation coefficient
using tag-1 in order to detect the presence of a tendency in the data (Franklin,
Allison, & Gorman (1997). Correlation values range between 0.01 0.21, all of
them being statistically insignificant. These results re-confirm that baseline data
were not affected by any source of systematic variation.
Consequently, we proceeded to the next phase concerning the effect of
treatment phase (2-4) as a whole. In order to get an answer to the first question of
the study, regarding the effects of the multi-component treatment, we used a 3x3
ANOVA, with two independent variables – the Subject variable, with three levels
(participant 1, participant 2, participant 3) and the Treatment variable, with three
levels (baseline, treatment and follow-up). Results are shown Table 3.
Table 3. Mean sleep onset (in minutes) in baseline and follow-up phase
Participant Mean Std. Deviation
1 33.89 9.61
2 31.50 14.34
3 35.30 17.87
1 17.96 3.51
2 19.33 8.39
3 29.00 9.88
1 12.78 4.41
2 15.00 4.08
3 18.50 7.09
The calculated value of the Mauchly test for the within subject variable
(Treatment) was W = 0.85; the approximated value is χ²=4.76 (df=2, p=0.13),
satisfying the assumption of sphericity. The statistical analysis indicates an effect
of the treatment, F(2,52) = 27.09 (p=0.001, η² = 0.51), and its magnitude reflects a
high effect size (Cohen, 1982). No significant effect of the subject variable was
observed, F<1, meaning that all subjects improved their sleep onset time in the
same amount. This conclusion is also confirmed by the insignificant value of the
interaction between treatment x subject, F(2,52) = 0.73 (p = 0.57, η² = 0.05).
The results of the Sidak post-hoc are presented in Table 4. All statistical
comparisons were significant. This means that the mean sleep onset time
progressively decreases from m=33.55 (sd=14.06) at Baseline, to m=22.04
(sd=9.09) during Treatment and to m=15.52 (sd=5.72) at Follow-up.
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Alexandru V. Bogdan, Róbert Balázsi, Viorel Lupu & Vasile Bogdan
Table 4. Sidak post-hoc pair wise comparison for the main stages of the study
Stage Treatment Mean Difference Sig.
Treatment 11.46 .001 Baseline
Follow-up 18.13 .001
Baseline -11.46 .001 Treatment
Follow-up 6.67 .006
Baseline -18.13 .001 Follow-up
Treatment -6.67 .006
We have shown that the treatment phase as a whole has a significant
effect, but we were also interested to analyze the independent effect of each
treatment type compared to baseline. Thus, we compared each treatment type in
stage 2 (first treatment intervention) with the baseline, using a repeated measure t
test. Results are: t = 10.26 (df=9, p=0.001) for sleep hygiene, t = 6.28 (df=9,
p=0.001) for binaural beats and t = 5.89 (df=9, p=0.001) for muscle relaxation.
In the last phase of data analysis we transformed the design into a simple
Latin square using a dependent variable obtained by computing the differences
between baseline score and each intervention stage score (see Table 5). Data were
analyzed using a GLM for Latin square, with one random factor (Participant) and
two fixed effect factors (Stage and Treatment type).
Table 5. Baseline - Stage mean differences for each treatment type
Participant/Stage S2 S3 S4
8.5 16.5 20 Participant 1
3 16.5 17 Participant 2
13.3 -9.7 15.3 Participant 3
S2-S4 – intervention stages, SH – sleep hygiene, MR – muscle relaxation and BB -
binaural beats
The most important finding is that no significant Stage x Treatment
interaction effect was observed, F(2,81)=2.18 (p=0.065), meaning that the effect
of treatment type is not influenced by the stage in which it was introduced. Since
each stage involved a different treatment type for each subject, we can assume
that the effect of the stage is not influenced by the treatment type variable. There
is a significant main effect of Treatment, F(2,81)=3.24 (p=0.04) which means that
there is a difference in the effectiveness of different treatment interventions. To
find out which one is the most efficient, we conducted a Sidak pot-hoc pair wise
comparison (see Table 6).
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Treating primary insomnia
Table 6. Sidak post-hoc pair wise comparison for the treatment types
Treatment Treatment Mean
Difference Sig.
Muscular Relaxation -2.16 .95 Sleep Hygiene
Binaural Beats 9.00 .15
Sleep Hygiene 2.16 .95
Muscular Relaxation
Binaural Beats 11.16 .04
Sleep Hygiene -9.00 .15 Binaural Beats
Muscular Relaxation -11.16 .04
Data in Table 6 indicate that the only significant difference is between
Muscular relaxation and Binaural beats, while all other comparisons are
insignificant. The effect of Sleep Hygiene could not be differentiated from that of
Binaural Beats and relaxation.
The main objective of this study was twofold: to compare the effect of
two types of self-help treatment (i.e., sleep hygiene, binaural beats) with the effect
of progressive muscle relaxation in the treatment of primary insomnia; we were
also interested in the relative efficacy of two self-help methods (i.e., sleep
hygiene, binaural beats).
The research design was a modified latin square experimental design for
single subject research. This design allows valid inferences regarding treatment,
and has a high practical value in clinical research (Kutner, Nachtsheim, Neter, &
Li, 2005).
The significant main effect of treatment and the significant differences
between baseline, treatment phase and follow-up indicate that treatment improves
sleep onset time for all the participants. These results support the already-proven
effect of multi-component interventions in primary insomnia (Morgenthaler et al.,
2006). The post-hoc differences between follow-up and treatment phase indicate
that, during the intervention, all subjects gained some abilities that improved their
sleep onset time over the treatment phase. This feature is common to all
therapeutic interventions and, moreover, it is a desirable outcome (Beck, 1995).
To prove that this global effect could not be explained by the high effect
size of only one intervention (e.g., progressive muscle relaxation combined with
insignificant effect of hygiene and binaural beats), we compared each treatment
type with the baseline scores. Our results show statistically significant effects for
each treatment type.
In which muscle relaxation and sleep hygiene are concerned, our results
are in line with the conclusions of other empirical studies (Engle-Friedman,
Bootzin, Hazlewood, & Tsao, 1992; Guilleminault, Clerk, Black, Labanowski,
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Alexandru V. Bogdan, Róbert Balázsi, Viorel Lupu & Vasile Bogdan 78
Pelayo, & Claman, 1995). The main component of these two techniques is based
primarily on behavior modification. The target of progressive muscle relaxation is
to reduce arousal before falling asleep, which is an important component of the
integrative model of insomnia (Lundh & Broman, 1999).
The second procedure has a behavioural component which consists in
stimulus control, sleep restriction and adopting a healthy lifestyle favourable to a
good night sleep. Lifestyle change is focused on avoiding high arousal prior to
sleep (e.g., limiting physical exercise after 6 P.M., limiting caffeine and alcohol
intake in the afternoon, etc.). Based on stimulus control and sleep restriction, the
individual can develop a healthy sleep-related cognitive schema. For example,
through sleep restriction the patient will associate staying in bed only with sleep
and not with other activities such as eating, watching TV, etc. (Bower, Black, &
Turner, 1979; Miclea, 2003). The convergence of these two mechanism results in
an improvement of sleep quality which was demonstrated in the present and in
many other studies (Harvey, 2001; Stepanski, 2003).
The empirical data regarding the utility of binaural beats in treating
primary insomnia in particular, and other types of disorders is nearly missing,
notwithstanding the fact that the underling physiological mechanism of this
phenomenon is relatively well-known (Newman, 1993, 1997; Oster, 1973; Smith,
1975, 1978). According to the theoretical model of the binaural beats (Lane,
Kasian, Owens, & Marsh, 1998) the statistically significant difference between
baseline and binaural beats condition could be explained by neural-level
phenomena which take place in the presence of these particular beats (for a detail
description see Newman, 1997).
Regarding the statistical significant effect of binaural beats, there is a
possible confounded variable which might affect our conclusion. During the
binaural treatment, each subject listened to an audio tape playing music and
background binaural beats. It is possible that the significant reducing in sleep
onset time is explained by the effect of the relaxation music itself, not by the
presence of the binaural beats. This explanation would contradict the findings
reported by Padmanabhan et al. (2005) in a study comparing the effect of binaural
beats music, control, and placebo (i.e., same music without binaural beats) in
treating of preoperative anxiety. They found significant differences between the
experimental group and both control and placebo group.
Regarding the relative effect of the three treatment types, progressive
muscle relaxation, sleep hygiene and binaural beats, our results indicate that there
is a significant difference only between muscle relaxation and binaural beats. We
did not find any significant differences between muscle relaxation and sleep
hygiene, binaural beats and sleep hygiene. This lack of difference could be
explained by the moderate effect size reported in most studies using progressive
muscle relaxation and low to moderate effect size of self-help treatment. To verify
this, we computed the effect size of our post hoc comparisons and found an effect
size of d=0.23 for the difference between muscle relaxation and sleep hygiene and
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Treating primary insomnia 79
an effect size of d=0.96 between sleep hygiene and binaural beats. According to
Cohen’s norms, the first calculated effect size is low, and we can say that the
effect of the two interventions is nearly similar.
In which the difference between hygiene and binaural beats is concerned, a
beta type error is more probable. Probably this effect size would have been
observed by an increase in statistical power (i.e., increasing the number of
evaluations in each stage) or, by using a replicated Latin square design instead of
simple one, which allows a more precise evaluation of the carryover effect
(Kutner, Nachtsheim, Neter, & Li, 2005).
Summarizing our findings, we can say that the cognitive behavioral
intervention and the self-help treatment have both proved to be efficient related to
baseline. The effect of the cognitive behavioral intervention is very similar to the
effect of hygiene and it is very probable that the effect of binaural beat is
somewhat reduced compared to the other two. Based on the above mentioned
empirical evidence, we believe that self-help treatment strategies could offer a
viable alternative in the treatment of primary insomnia for individuals who do not
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... For patients with 1 or more diseases, sleep disorders might develop because of the In particular, relaxation exercises might improve sleep quality by relaxing the body, lowering blood pressure, stimulating circulation, and providing muscle relaxation. 12,14 These exercises facilitate the transition to the parasympathetic nervous system, use natural methods, and result in physical and mental relaxation. 12,14 Relaxation exercises are based on reducing fear, excitement, anxiety, palpitations, and spasms, as well as slowing thoughts. ...
... 12,14 These exercises facilitate the transition to the parasympathetic nervous system, use natural methods, and result in physical and mental relaxation. 12,14 Relaxation exercises are based on reducing fear, excitement, anxiety, palpitations, and spasms, as well as slowing thoughts. These exercises might have positive effects in other areas of life. ...
... Relaxation exercises might improve sleep quality by decreasing blood pressure, regulating blood circulation, and providing muscle relaxation. 12,[14][15][16][17]19 In this study, the relaxation exercises were found to have positive effects on sleep quality in the pre-and posttest evaluations and in the interventional and control groups (P < .05). Previous studies have reported similar results. ...
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This study aims to assess sleep quality and determine the effects of relaxation exercise on sleep quality in patients hospitalized in internal medicine services. In total, 47 patients comprised the control group and did not engage in the exercise intervention-the progressive muscle relaxation exercise, whereas 235 patients were assigned to the intervention group (N = 282). In this study, Description Questionnaire Form and the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) were used. Most patients (73.8%) had poor sleep quality. The mean pre- and postexercise PSQI scores of the patients in the interventional group were 8.7 ± 4.0 and 6.1 ± 3.3, respectively. The mean pre- and postexercise PSQI scores of the control patients were 6.6 ± 3.5 and 5.6 ± 2.7, respectively. According to this study, the exercises significantly enhanced the quality of sleep. Patients should be encouraged by nurses to perform relaxation exercises.
... One of the promising means of this kind is acous tic (sound) stimulation. At present, acoustic influ ence to improve sleep is realized in commercial devices with feedback [1], in devices of light and sound stimulation (so called "mind machines", [2]), and is also declared in audio recordings of psychotherapeutic orientation [3,4] and some online applications. ...
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“Binaural beats” (BB) is a type of sound stimulus being studied as non�invasive tools to promote sleep. BB is a sensation occuring when two monotonous sounds of slightly different pitch are supplied to the listener’s right and left ear separately. This type of stimulation has the advantage to be perceived even at very low sound volumes essentially bordering the hearing threshold, so such a stimulus creates little disturbance to sleep. However, the patterns of its effect are difficult to study due to the weakness of electric brainwave response. The purpose of present paper is to check applicability of the brainwave entrainment hypothesis to auditory stimuli with embedded BB delivered during short-term human nap. The results demonstrate variability of auditory steady state response (ASSR) depending on BB frequency of the stimulus as well as on sleep stage that is not envisaged by the above hypothesis. It should be taken into account when predicting the effect of BB�based noninvasive sleep aids. Furthermore, the analysis of ASSR spectra allows the hypothesis to be put that the human brain falling asleep is a self�adjusting system in relation to incoming sound stimuli, for it strengthens the elements of auditory response which contribute to deepening of naturally evolving sleep.
... Sleep makes our body, a bit relaxed and our nervous system temporarily becomes inactive comparatively. Sleep problems like insomnia, RLS (Restless leg syndrome), sleep apnea are common in today's world [1] with respect to the busy lifestyle of people eventhough many switch to devices like sleep guard [2]. In this regard,on an average all humans need eight hours of healthy sleep daily. ...
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Sleep disorders are common among people in the present lifestyle and this may occur due to irregular sleep patterns. The disordered sleep pattens arise due to various reasons and can be prevented by ensuring a relaxed and deep sleep for everyone. Binaural beats are the stimuli that are set to a particular rhythm and generated to get the required audio frequency to synchronize with the brainwaves. This paper focuses on the effects and analysis of binaural beat response on the brain waves of adults and how they help to induce sleep for an individual. This work highlights the results that were obtained by performing the real time hardware experiments accordingly. The head movement is recorded from the experiment using the readings from the accelerometer and gyroscope sensors which are depicted by the angle coordinates based on two conditions, first when the subjects fall asleep without application of binaural beats and second when minimal frequency of binaural beats are applied close to their ears. Using the real time hardware experiment values, an application is created to differentiate the cases of with and without binaural beats application. In order to validate the real time experiment with an application, a statistical analysis is done from the obtained real time hardware results depicting the sleep pattern by performing corresponding tests.
... A binaural beat (BB) is an auditory stimulus perceived as a third sound generated by the brain that is the product of the presentation of 2 frequencies, with only one received by each ear. [5][6][7][8] Theta waves, 4 to 8 Hz, are often used as a meditative focus. ...
Context: Distress has deleterious effects on health. While complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is a growing system of practices in the treatment of health and mental-health conditions, many individuals have limited access to mind-body interventions. Creating accessible stress-inoculation strategies may augment traditional mental-health interventions and services. Objective: This pilot study intended to assess the effectiveness of a theta binaural beat (TBB) auditory stimulus on heart rate and self-reported stress, which was experimentally induced by the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Design: The repeated measures study compared the stress levels after a stimulus and stressor for two groups, within an experimentally induced psychological stress paradigm, the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Setting: The study occurred at a private Midwestern university. Participants: Participants were 64 US adults recruited from undergraduate classes at the university, with a mean age of 19 years and a range from 18 to 30. Intervention: Participants were randomly assigned to the intervention or the control group. The intervention group listened to pink sound, carrier tones, and embedded TBB, while the control group listened to pink sound and carrier tones without embedded TBB. Outcome measures: Participants completed self-report assessments about the auditory stimulus, perceived stress, and mindfulness and then engaged in the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Subsequently, they completed measures on perceived stress using a visual analogue scale (VAS), and heart rate variability (HRV) was recorded throughout the study. Results: With respect to the evaluation of subjective stress using the VAS, psychological stress increased significantly between the exposure to the stimuli and the TSST-F(1.28, 53) = 42.76, P = .01, partial η2 = 0.44. The change in stress levels for the intervention group, however, was not significantly different from that of the control group at any time point F(1.28, 53) = 1.03, P = .33, partial η2 = 0.02. With respect to the evaluation of physiological response to stress using the HRV, the changes in HF HRV between the 4, five-minute segments during stimulus exposure were not significantly different between the groups F(3, 55) = 0.90, P = .44, partial η2 = 0.02. A significantly greater change-F(1, 55) = 4.84, P = .03 partial η2 = 0.08-in the HF HRV occurred over the TSST period for the intervention group compared to the control group suggesting that on average across the TSST stress tasks, those in the intervention group demonstrated higher HF signals. Conclusions: The current study found that the intervention group, who listened to TBBs, had greater parasympathetic dominance during TSST than the control group. This suggests that TBB exposure may dampen subsequent stress responses to an acute, psychological stressor. This finding, however, should be interpreted with caution, because further research and independent replication are warranted.
... Progressive muscle relaxation therapy reduces muscle tension and stops racing thoughts that affect sleep [9]. In subjective reporting, muscle relaxation therapy reduces sleep onset latency and increases total sleep time [10]. The first clinical study of insomnia treatment using relaxation therapy was published in the 1960s [11]. ...
... Other studies have also shown positive effects of methods such as relaxation exercises on the quality of sleep. 19,[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52] ...
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Purpose The study aimed to evaluate the effect of progressive muscle relaxation exercises on pain in patients with sickle cell disease. Materials-Method This randomized controlled interventional study was conducted in a hospital in Mersin, Turkey between October 2017 and July 2018. The study sample comprised 58 patients who were aged >18 years, conscious, had sickle cell disease, reported pain, and were treated with non-opioid or weak opioid analgesic based on the physician's recommendation (treatment group = 29, control group = 29). Data were collected by the individual presentation form and visual analog scale. During the study, both groups were treated with analgesics prescribed by the physician for three days. In addition to the analgesics, the treatment group was performed progressive muscle relaxation exercises for 30 minutes whereas the control group was rested. Pain level of both groups was evaluated at three time points every day for three days. In the study, frequency distributions and descriptive statistics were presented for categorical and numerical variables, respectively. Chi-square analysis, independent samples t-test, Mann–Whitney U test, three-way ANOVA, and Sidak test were used to analyze the difference between the variables. Results The mean age of the patients was 29.59 ± 6.94 years, and 53.4% of the patients were female and 69% were single. The mean pain score of the treatment group at the third time point on days 1, 2, and 3 was significantly lower than the control group (p < .05). There was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in terms of coping methods for pain, pain location, and complaints accompanying pain (p > .05). Conclusion Progressive muscle relaxation exercises were found to be effective in the pain management of patients with sickle cell anemia.
... An explanation for the success of such treatment has been provided by Murtagh and Greenwood (1995) who demonstrated that poor sleepers are more physiologically aroused prior to and during sleep than are good sleepers. Studies designed to reduce such arousal through relaxation and desensitization of bedtime-related activity has been reported (Lundh, 2005: Morin, 2002: Alexandru, Robert, Viorel, & Vasile, 2009). ...
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Insomnia is a common sleep complaint that could affect students’ academic activities, and if not mitigated, it may give way to the development of other disorders. This study investigates the efficacy of relaxation techniques on insomnia among university students with mild depression. A non-randomized design involving pretest posttest experimental/control group was used. Twenty-four students (treatment = 12; control = 12), with a mean age of 24.6, voluntarily participated in the study. Participants were pretested, and post tested after six weeks of exposure to relaxation technique components, and the data collected was statistically analyzed using JMP 13.2. After adjusting for the covariate, finding suggests a significant effect of relaxation technique F (1, 21) = 22.416, p = .000, in reducing insomnia among university students. Participants exposed to relaxation technique for insomnia achieved an average of 46% remission compared to 9% for the control group. The study did not find significant differential effect of relaxation technique, F (1, 9) = .369, p = .559, in reducing insomnia of male compared to female university students. Based on these findings, we conclude that relaxation technique for insomnia is effective in helping students manage their sleep difficulty and this effectiveness is without gender bias.
Insomnia is a prevalent sleep disorder. Insomnia results in distress and daytime impairment and is often comorbid with other sleep, medical, and mental health disorders. This chapter describes best practices for the treatment of insomnia disorder. Practices for non-medication and medication treatments are described, including the first line treatment, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). Treatment recommendations are presented in the context of common comorbidities with insomnia. Additionally, recommendations are provided in the context of first line treatment non-responders. The risks associated with non-medication treatments and medication treatments and strategies to mitigate potential harms are described. The goals of the current chapter are to provide sleep medicine clinicians with (1) knowledge of evidence-based treatments for insomnia disorder and (2) a decision-making framework for the delivery of preparatory, concurrent, and/or supplemental treatments for patients who experience insomnia disorder.
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Sleep disturbances, including not being able to fall asleep easily/difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently, or waking up too early and being unable to fall asleep again/resume sleep are diagnosed as insomnia if they cause significant disruption to daily life and are not caused by other sleep disorders such as pain or sleep apnea. Although insomnia is not considered a serious life-threatening condition, it has not only a high prevalence rate but also a high recurrence rate and tends to become chronic. Chronic insomnia patients tend to show common behavioral and cognitive patterns, typical of which are worrying about not being able to fall or stay asleep, excessive awakening because of this worry, limiting and reducing daytime activities or attempting to stay in bed for long periods to compensate for lack of sleep. These cognitive and behavioral characteristics are important contributing factors for the continuation of insomnia. To date, the most popular and effective treatment option/approach recommended by experts for insomnia is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). CBT for insomnia consists of the following three non-pharmaceutical treatment elements: 1) behavioral elements such as stimulus control therapy, sleep restriction therapy, and muscle relaxation, 2) cognitive elements, and 3) educational elements focusing on sleep hygiene. However, there are barriers to insomnia patients receiving this treatment including accessibility and cost, despite the abundance of evidence demonstrating their effectiveness. Recently, online CBT for insomnia has become available as an alternative, and its emergence is providing a solution to the barriers to access.
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Study objective: To study prospectively the relations of insomnia to the development of anxiety disorders and depression in a population-based sample. Design: Cohort study based on data from 2 general health surveys of the adult population. Setting: Two general health surveys in the adult population in Nord-Trøndelag County of Norway, HUNT-1 performed in 1984-6 and HUNT-2 in 1995-7 Participants: Participants without significant anxiety and depression in HUNT-1 were categorized according to the presence and absence of insomnia in the 2 surveys (N=25,130). Measurements and results: Anxiety disorders and depression in HUNT-2 were assessed by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and analyzed using multivariate logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, gender, education, comorbid depression/anxiety, and history of insomnia. Anxiety disorders in HUNT-2 were significantly associated with the group with insomnia in HUNT-1 only (OR 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.3), the group with insomnia in HUNT-2 only (OR 3.4; 95% CI, 3.1-3.8), as well as with the group with insomnia in both surveys (OR 4.9; 95% CI, 3.8-6.4). Depression in HUNT-2 was significantly associated with the group with insomnia in HUNT-2 only (OR 1.8; 95% CI, 1.6-2.0), but not with the groups with insomnia in HUNT-1 only or with insomnia in both surveys. Conclusions: Only a state-like association between insomnia and depression was found. In addition to being a state marker, insomnia may be a trait marker for individuals at risk for developing anxiety disorders. Results are consistent with insomnia being a risk factor for the development of anxiety disorders.
This paper reviews the evidence regarding the efficacy of nonpharmacological treatments for primary chronic insomnia. It is based on a review of 48 clinical trials and two meta-analyses conducted by a task force appointed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to develop practice parameters on non-drug therapies for the clinical management of insomnia. The findings indicate that nonpharmacological therapies produce reliable and durable changes in several sleep parameters of chronic insomnia sufferers. The data indicate that between 70% and 80% of patients treated with nonpharmacological interventions benefit from treatment. For the typical patient with persistent primary insomnia, treatment is likely to reduce the main target symptoms of sleep onset latency and/or wake time after sleep onset below or near the 30-min criterion initially used to define insomnia severity. Sleep duration is also increased by a modest 30 minutes and sleep quality and patient's satisfaction with sleep patterns are significantly enhanced. Sleep improvements achieved with these behavioral interventions are sustained for at least 6 months after treatment completion. However, there is no clear evidence that improved sleep leads to meaningful changes in daytime well-being or performance. Three treatments meet the American Psychological Association (APA) criteria for empirically-supported psychological treatments for insomnia: Stimulus control, progressive muscle relaxation, and paradoxical intention; and three additional treatments meet APA criteria for probably efficacious treatments: Sleep restriction, biofeedback, and multifaceted cognitive-behavior therapy. Additional outcome research is needed to examine the effectiveness of treatment when it is implemented in clinical settings (primary care, family practice), by non-sleep specialists, and with insomnia patients presenting medical or psychiatric comorbidity.
Relaxation therapy was given to 3 groups of older women (N = 57): (a) hypnotically medicated insomniacs, (b) nonhypnotically medicated insomniacs, and (c) noninsomniacs. Groups b and c were receiving antihypertensives. Self-reported sleep and medication data were collected for 1 week at pretreatment (except relaxation), posttreatment, and 6-weeks follow-up. Three relaxation sessions, a nondemanding, hybrid method, were administered with the rationale of helping insomnia or high blood pressure. Substantial sleep improvement occurred only for nonhypnotically medicated insomniacs. Substantial sleep medication reduction (47%) occurred only for hypnotically medicated insomniacs. This relaxation approach proved valuable, but the nature of the treatment effect was dependent on the medication status of the insomniac.
To study prospectively the relations of insomnia to the development of anxiety disorders and depression in a population-based sample. Cohort study based on data from 2 general health surveys of the adult population. Two general health surveys in the adult population in Nord-Trøndelag County of Norway, HUNT-1 performed in 1984-6 and HUNT-2 in 1995-7 Participants without significant anxiety and depression in HUNT-1 were categorized according to the presence and absence of insomnia in the 2 surveys (N=25,130). Anxiety disorders and depression in HUNT-2 were assessed by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and analyzed using multivariate logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, gender, education, comorbid depression/anxiety, and history of insomnia. Anxiety disorders in HUNT-2 were significantly associated with the group with insomnia in HUNT-1 only (OR 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.3), the group with insomnia in HUNT-2 only (OR 3.4; 95% CI, 3.1-3.8), as well as with the group with insomnia in both surveys (OR 4.9; 95% CI, 3.8-6.4). Depression in HUNT-2 was significantly associated with the group with insomnia in HUNT-2 only (OR 1.8; 95% CI, 1.6-2.0), but not with the groups with insomnia in HUNT-1 only or with insomnia in both surveys. Only a state-like association between insomnia and depression was found. In addition to being a state marker, insomnia may be a trait marker for individuals at risk for developing anxiety disorders. Results are consistent with insomnia being a risk factor for the development of anxiety disorders.
As part of the National Institute of Mental Health Epidemiologic Catchment Area study, 7954 respondents were questioned at baseline and 1 year later about sleep complaints and psychiatric symptoms using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule. Of this community sample, 10.2% and 3.2% noted insomnia and hypersomnia, respectively, at the first interview. Forty percent of those with insomnia and 46.5% of those with hypersomnia had a psychiatric disorder compared with 16.4% of those with no sleep complaints. The risk of developing new major depression was much higher in those who had insomnia at both interviews compared with those without insomnia (odds ratio, 39.8; 95% confidence interval, 19.8 to 80.0). The risk of developing new major depression was much less for those who had insomnia that had resolved by the second visit (odds ratio, 1.6; 95% confidence interval, 0.5 to 5.3). Further research is needed to determine if early recognition and treatment of sleep disturbances can prevent future psychiatric disorders. (JAMA. 1989;262:1479-1484)
This study examined the effects of two self-administered manuals on sleep latency insomnia using self-monitored records. All subjects under 55 were randomly assigned either to: a manual on relaxation and stimulus control treatments for insomnia, a manual suggesting physical exercise and activities in bed, or a self-monitor only group. Seven subjects over 55 received the relaxation and stimulus control manual. At 4 weeks, both treated groups of young subjects improved relative to the untreated self-monitor group on sleep onset; the group receiving the stimulus control and relaxation instructions was significantly better than the self-monitor only group on rated quality of sleep. At 12 weeks, when the waiting group had received the treatment manual, there were no significant differences among young groups on any of the sleep variables. Older subjects improved significantly less than younger subjects (who received the same manual) on sleep latency. Moreover, older subjects failed to improve significantly during treatment or at follow-up.