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Self-Help TX Does as Well as Face-To-Face for Insomnia

14 Jun

Researchers from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in The Netherlands explored whether self-help could offer an inexpensive and more accessible alternative to face-to-face treatment, comparing non-pharmacological therapies only.

Ten studies with a total of 1000 subjects were included. The self-help style of intervention was found to improve sleep efficiency (d=0.42; p<0.05), sleep onset latency (d=0.29; p<0.05), waking after sleep onset (d=0.44; p<0.05) and sleep quality (d=0.33; p<0.05) but not total sleep time (d=0.02; p>0.05).

The sleep improvements were maintained over the longer term. Symptoms of anxiety and depression also decreased after self-help (d=0.28; p<0.05 and d=0.51; p<0.05, respectively). The face-to-face treatments did not show statistically significant superiority to the self-help treatments.

The study concludes that the effects of self-help treatments are small to moderate.  They may well constitute a useful addition to existing treatment options, especially when integrated into a stepped care approach.

Citation:  van Straten A, Cuijpers P. Self-help therapy for insomnia: a meta-analysisSleep Medicine Reviews.  2009 Feb;13(1):61-71. Epub 2008 Oct 26. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award