A study in the Aug. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine involved 51 older adults with osteoarthritis and insomnia.
Twenty-three people received cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia; they had an average age of 69 years. Each of the eight weekly CBT sessions lasted two hours; class sizes ranged from four to eight people.
CBT uses a variety of methods to help you develop positive attitudes and habits that promote a healthy pattern of sleep. One common technique is relaxation training.
Results show that CBT improved self-reported sleep quality in people with osteoarthritis and insomnia. After treatment they fell asleep faster; they also spent less time awake during the night. Overall their sleep was much more efficient.
CBT also had a long-term effect; they were still sleeping better at a one-year follow-up. They also were sleeping more than 30 minutes longer each night.
Another finding was that people with osteoarthritis reported less pain after CBT for insomnia. The pain reduction was strongest during the month after the CBT sessions ended; a mild reduction in pain was reported one year later.
“Improvement of sleep may lead to improvement in co-existing medical or psychiatric illnesses, such as osteoarthritis or depression,” lead author Michael V. Vitiello, PhD, told the AASM. “These additional benefits can be seen in the long term.”
The NIAMS reports that osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It involves the loss of cartilage around the joints. It affects an estimated 27 million people in the U.S.; most often it occurs in older adults.
Last week the Sleep Education Blog reported that studies have linked sleep and pain sensitivity. Treatments that improve sleep quantity and quality may make a person less sensitive to pain.
This can be helpful for people with a chronic pain condition. But it is unlikely to solve the problem of pain for them.
“Pain may be an outcome that has only a limited range to change,” wrote Patricia L. Haynes, PhD, in a commentary that followed the study. “The pain is not going to go away.”
Learn more about insomnia due to medical condition on SleepEducation.com.