Researchers from the Sleep Disorders Center at the Mayo Clinic College in Rochester, MN replicated and extended an earlier study (by Hurwitz et al, 1991) looking at the effectiveness of one or two sessions of hypnosis in substantially improving “parasomnias” (sleep disorders such as sleepwalking, sleep-eating, nightmares, night terrors, bedwetting, sleep sex, teeth grinding, sleep talking, restless legs syndrome, and so on) up to five years later.
The study sample consisted of thirty-six patients (19 male, 17 female), ages ranging from 6 to 71, with an average age of 32.7 years. Four were children aged 6 to 16. All had chronic, self-sustaining parasomnias. All underwent 1 or 2 hypnotherapy sessions and were then followed with a questionnaire for 5 years.
Researchers from the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University Medical Center performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy of imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) as a treatment for nightmares, general sleep disturbance, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
Bibliographic databases and cited references were searched to identify clinical trials of imagery rehearsal in individuals with post-trauma nightmares.
Thirteen studies met inclusion criteria and reported sleep and post-traumatic stress outcomes in sufficient detail to calculate effect sizes.
Researchers from the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa in Canada investigated whether imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT - a simple protocol based on lucid dreaming, using a a sequence similar to EMDR) could be used with children experiencing frequent nightmares.
Eleven boys and 9 girls, ages 9 - 11, with moderate to severe primary nightmares (1 or more per week for 6 months) and without posttraumatic stress disorder, were randomly divided into an imagery rehearsal treatment group (n = 9) or a waiting-list (n = 11) group.
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).
What Helps Older Adults Sleep Better? Melatonin, Valerian, Tai Chi, Acupressure, Yoga ...
A review from the University of Pennsylvania finds several promising holistic therapies improve sleep disorders in older adults .
Research from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Center for Sleep and Respiratory Neurobiology reviewed the growing body of well-designed clinical trials testing efficacy of complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) for sleep disorders in older adults. They point to three promising areas:
- Melatonin is an effective agent for circadian phase sleep disorders; less clearly so for primary or secondary insomnia;
- Valerian shows benefit in some but not all clinical trials;
- Chi, acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, and meditation improve sleep parameters in a limited number of early trials
The author recommends that more research be done in all these areas.
Citation: Gooneratne NS. Complementary and alternative medicine for sleep disturbances in older adults. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine. 2008 Feb;24 (1): pages 121-38, viii. [email protected].
A new review from the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System examines which complementary and alternative therapies are most effective at helping critically ill patients sleep better.
Researchers at Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System reviewed seven studies that examined the effect of complementary and alternative therapies on sleep promotion in critically ill patients. The research shows that massage, music therapy and therapeutic touch promote relaxation and comfort in critically ill patients, which likely leads to improved sleep.