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Behavior management programs help seniors with chronic illnesses sleep better

Seniors with chronic illnesses who have trouble sleeping can benefit from a behavior modification program, according to a study conducted by sleep researchers at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. The findings will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychology and Aging.

In the study, three groups consisting of 38 older adults with chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis or lung disease were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups. One group received classroom cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT), the second group was given home audio relaxation treatment (HART), and the third group received delayed treatment.

After four months of treatment, 54 percent of the CBT group reported clinically significant sleep improvements four months after treatment while 39 percent in the HART group realized statistically significant changes and 6 percent in the control group improved. The areas of sleep measured included sleep efficiency, time awake after sleep onset and total time in bed.

The behavioral classroom intervention consisted of eight-hour weekly group sessions that train individuals to reset their "sleep clock" by adhering to a regular sleep period, curtail daytime naps, avoid activities that make it difficult to fall asleep, and to stay in bed only when drowsy or sleeping.

The HART group consisted of seven commercially produced audiotape recordings derived from a program created for the U.S. Air Force to train pilots and shift workers to sleep better. HART was used over a period of six weeks and the tapes combined progressive muscle relaxation, breathing relaxation, cognitive relaxation, cognitive retraining and nature sounds. It also included instruction in techniques that are similar to those employed in the CBT intervention.

Delayed treatment control group participants completed three in home assessments at intervals that matched to treatment groups and offered HART int
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Contact: Chris Martin
cmartin@rsh.net
312-942-7820
Rush University Medical Center
4-Apr-2002


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