A Little Sleep Education May Improve Insomnia

Katie Kosko

Just one class on improving sleep may help curb chronic insomnia in cancer survivors, according to study findings published in Cancer.

During treatment, insomnia can be brought on by factors such as anxiety, fatigue or pain and linger after therapy ends, wrote the researchers from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. 

They studied what they call a stepped care approach in 51 survivors with moderate to severe insomnia. Step one: a single session that included information from handouts with sleeping tips. Step two, taken only by those who felt the first step didn’t help: a three-part cognitive-behavioral therapy program led by a clinician.

The researchers found that 41% of survivors successfully overcame their insomnia after participating in the one-time class. Fourteen people moved on to the second step and, when it was over, 71% had their insomnia resolved.

Survivors most likely to benefit from the single session experienced insomnia for a shorter time frame and felt less burdened by it, the researchers wrote.

“Our results demonstrate that a stepped care model, in which the first treatment is low intensity and easily accessible to patients, can be effective for improving insomnia in cancer survivors,” first author Eric Zhou said in a statement. “This represents a tremendous opportunity to treat a problem that can significantly diminish cancer survivors’ health and quality of life when not addressed.”
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