Online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for chronic insomnia is effective in improving insomnia severity, daytime fatigue, and sleep quality, according to a study.
The researchers behind the study claim that online treatment also reduces erroneous beliefs about sleep and pre-sleep mental arousal.
According to the results, 81 percent of treated participants (30 of 37) found at least mild improvement in their sleep after completing the five-week program, including 35 percent (13 of 37) who rated themselves as much or very much improved.
Around 30 percent of members in treatment group, who completed the program, were receiving an additional hour of sleep at the end of the program.
Those who received treatment also developed healthier attitudes about sleep, and were less likely to report having an overactive mind at bedtime.
Principal investigator Dr. Norah Vincent, a psychologist at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, said that they were surprised by the significant results in the absence of any ongoing support from a clinician.
The treatment program consisted of psychoeducation about insomnia, information concerning sleep hygiene, stimulus control instruction, relaxation training, sleep restriction and cognitive therapy.
"Although each segment of the CBT program is important, the cognitive therapy module was the most positively rated. The cognitive therapy section was designed to help individuals to develop realistic expectations about sleep and the impact of sleep on next-day functioning while teaching a variety of strategies for coping with an overactive mind and worries," said the researcher.
The study was conducted on adults with chronic insomnia who were referred to a teaching hospital behavioural medicine sleep clinic, or who had responded to a newspaper advertisement.
The online treatment used audiovisual clips as the main teaching component, downloadable mp3 files for relaxation training, and PDF files for psychoeducation and cognitive therapy.
Findings were based on self-reported data gathered from a post-treatment questionnaire packet and sleep diaries.
Most individuals could potentially benefit from online CBT for chronic insomnia because the program showed effective results in people ranging in age from 18 to 80 years,
The researchers have hypothesized that the program could also help teenagers.
The study has been published in the journal SLEEP.