Self-help treatment for insomnia: a randomized controlled trial.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Sleep, Volume 28, Issue 10, p.1319-27 (2005)


Adult, Aged, Attitude to Health, Demography, Female, Health Behavior, Humans, Male, Medical Records, Middle Aged, Self Efficacy, Severity of Illness Index, Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders, Surveys and Questionnaires


<p><b>STUDY OBJECTIVES: </b>Insomnia is a prevalent health complaint that often remains untreated. Several interventions are efficacious but they are not widely available. This study evaluated the efficacy of a self-help behavioral intervention for insomnia.</p><p><b>DESIGN: </b>The study used a 2 (conditions; self-help treatment, no treatment control) x 3 (assessments; pretreatment, posttreatment, 6-month follow-up) mixed factorial design.</p><p><b>SETTING: </b>This study was part of a larger epidemiologic study conducted with a randomly selected sample of 2001 adults of the province of Quebec in Canada.</p><p><b>PARTICIPANTS: </b>One-hundred ninety-two adults (n = 127 women, 65 men; mean age, 46 years) with insomnia, selected from a larger community-based epidemiologic sample, were randomly assigned to self-help treatment (n = 96) or no-treatment control (n = 96).</p><p><b>INTERVENTIONS: </b>The self-help intervention included 6 educational booklets mailed weekly to participants and providing information about insomnia, healthy sleep practices, and behavioral sleep scheduling and cognitive strategies.</p><p><b>MEASUREMENTS AND RESULTS: </b>Participants completed sleep diaries and questionnaires at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 6-month follow-up. Significant but modest improvements were obtained on subjective sleep parameters for treatment but not control participants. Treated participants averaged nightly gains of 21 minutes of sleep and a reduction of 20 minutes of wakefulness, with a corresponding increase of 4% in sleep efficiency. Improvements were also obtained on measures of insomnia severity (Insomnia Severity Index) and of sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index), and those changes were maintained at follow-up.</p><p><b>CONCLUSIONS: </b>A self-help behavioral intervention was effective in alleviating a broad range of insomnia symptomatology in a community sample. Self-help may be a promising approach to make effective intervention more widely available.</p>

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