An Effective Insomnia Treatment for Night Shift Workers

Annie Vallières

The behavioral approach developed by Annie Vallières and her team leads to partial or total remission of insomnia in over 90% of people

By : Jean Hamann (translation: CERVO)

A team from Laval University has developed a behavioral intervention that improves sleep and mental health for people who work night shifts. The effectiveness of this intervention has just been demonstrated by the team led by Professor Annie Vallières, in a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research.

"About 1 in 4 people have a schedule that involves working shifts outside the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. period. It is estimated that 27% of these people suffer from work schedule disorder,” points out Annie Vallières, Professor at Laval University's School of Psychology and researcher at the CERVO Brain Research Centre and the CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Centre.

These people experience a desynchronization of their circadian rhythm,” she continues. They are not in phase with their natural sleep rhythm, which leads to insomnia and sleepiness. Their mental ruminations about sleep exacerbate their condition. This results in numerous physiological problems such as gastrointestinal problems and cardiovascular disease, but also psychological problems such as anxiety, stress and depressive symptoms."

The usual treatments offered to these people involve light therapy lamps to synchronize the circadian rhythm with the work schedule, sleeping pills to counter insomnia, or caffeine to stay alert. “These different approaches may help temporarily, but they don't solve the problem permanently,” says Professor Vallières.

Read more on Université Laval Nouvelles

Read the original research article in the Journal of Sleep Research: Behavioural therapy for shift work disorder improves shift workers' sleep, sleepiness and mental health: A pilot randomised control trial


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