Sleep Care

Intensive Sleep Retraining: Non-medicinal Insomnia Program

New study shows insomnia can be cured in a day

A day makes all the difference in the world for people with insomnia according to a new study. In a head-to-head trial, Australian researchers tested intensive sleep retraining (ISR) against other treatments for insomnia and discovered that six weeks after beginning the trial, people who got ISR training were falling asleep faster than those who didn’t get it.

In fact, 61 percent of patients participating in the therapy reported “good sleeping” status. Additionally, researchers said that the gains from treatment were significantly maintained throughout the six-month follow-up period.

With ISR treatment, the person with chronic insomnia sleeps or stays in bed no more than five hours the day before treatment. The next day, he or she goes to the sleep lab around bed time. Then, over the next 25 hours the ISR begins. During the 25 hours, the time is divided into 50 thirty-minute sessions. At each session, the person tries to fall asleep. If he or she is successful, the person is woken up just after three minutes of sleep, asked if he or she had been asleep, and told that he or she had in fact fallen asleep.

What the researchers found is that sleep deprivation that builds up over the course of this pattern helps even people with the most chronic forms of insomnia fall asleep a few times. The goal of ISR is teach people what it feels like to fall asleep quickly. Additionally, they learn that they can do it. Ultimately, the hope is

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that they will spend less time staring at the clock and more time sleeping especially since insomnia affects mood, daytime alertness, performance and health.

Before ISR many insomniacs turned to medication while others sought out stimulus control therapy. Through stimulus control therapy, the goal is to break insomnia habits and harmful sleep habits over the course of several weeks. But, ISR shows promise to break the cycle of insomnia in just a day.

Although experts are calling this development a “stunning demonstration” that should help facilitate the development of more non-drug therapies for insomnia, it can be expensive to perform ISR. For this reason, researchers are looking to develop a self-administered version that could be performed at home.

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