Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Behavioral Therapy Improves Sleep and Psychosocial Quality of Life

At the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, researchers presented data from a study of 108 families with children (mean age 5.6 years) that had moderate to severe sleep problems based on a survey of parents. Right off, this should raise a flag as to the conclusions, since these children were not officially diagnosed by a physician.

The intervention was an initial 45 minute private consultation with parents at the school, a 20-minute telephone call 10 days later, and a 30-minute private consulation at the school if needed (the study report does not state how many needed that extra 30-minute consultation). The report does not state specifically what the behavioral interventions were or who did them.

The results showed a 74% improvement in the intervention group vs a 53% improvement in the control group in the parents report of their childrens sleep at 6 months. Also, the children in the intervention group had less bedtime delay and resistance, and less daytime tiredness than the control group. The intervention group also had inmproved social and emotional functioning, but no effect on ADHD symptoms.

The authors conclude that a brief, behavioral intervention had significant benefits in the short to medium term, and that it is possible to deliver such an intervention in the school environment. Of note, over half of the patients in the control group got better on their own. But still, behavioral therapy for children can be beneficial, especially for those parents who find it difficult to set limits - one of the most common causes of insomnia in children.

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