Insomnia Study

The annual prevalence of insomnia symptoms ranges from 35-50%, and the prevalence of insomnia disorder ranges from 12-20%.  Insomnia is associated with increased risk of numerous medical conditions including diabetes, hypertension, major depression and congestive heart failure.  In addition, insomnia contributes to reduced work productivity, accidents, increased alcohol consumption and poor health.

Sedative hypnotics are the most common treatments offered to patients for Insomnia Disorder.  Numerous negative side effects accompany traditional hypnotics.  These drugs provide only symptomatic relief and do not address underlying mechanisms which sustain primary insomnia.  As a result, upon termination of sleep medication, these patients often experience a full return of their insomnia symptoms.

The most prominent non-drug treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).  Meta-analysis indicates 36% remission of insomnia disorder upon completion of CBT-I versus 16.9% in the comparison group. This means 64% of those completing CBT-I continued to meet diagnostic criteria for Insomnia Disorder.  While CBT-I has made a major contribution to assist with insomnia, there is room for improvement as evidenced by 64% still having Insomnia Disorder upon completion of CBT-I treatment.

Research shows insomniacs have faster brain wave patterns in bed than good sleepers which reflects heightened mental activity. The mechanisms of action for CBT-I do not directly address the faster brain wave patterns.  Many studie have linked alpha (8-13 Hz) and theta (4-7 Hz) waves to meditation practice.  A predominance of these lower brain wave frequencies has been found to be directly related to relaxation and sleep.  The principal investigator’s clinical use of meditation techniques to increase patients’ ability to initiate sleep has met with frequent feedback that “It works.”  This approach, “focus of attention” appears promising.  However, “It works” is not sufficient.  A clinical trial is needed to assess the relative efficacy of (a) cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia, (b) focus of attention [FOA], (c) a combination of CBT-I and FOA and (d) a comparison group.

Puget Sound Psychiatric Center (PSPC) is conducting a clinical research trial to compare the effectiveness of these treatment approaches for adults with insomnia.  Participants in the study will receive 6 weeks of free treatment.

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact either one of us.

Max Hines, PhD, LP  – Principal Investigator

Julia Bryson – Research Assistant