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Insomnia Reduced in Small Study in People with MS Funded by National MS Society

March 4, 2020

Researchers funded by the National MS Society report significant reductions in insomnia symptoms among 33 people with MS who participated in a study comparing cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia to two other programs. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia focuses on changing the behaviors and thoughts that perpetuate insomnia. Larger studies are necessary to understand who benefits most from which approaches, but the study indicates that more than one strategy can be used to address insomnia, which is commonly experienced by people with MS.
  • Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
    • a 6-week cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia program consisting of weekly in-person sessions with someone trained in providing cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia;
    • an active control group that participated in gentle stretching and light activity (Wii, Uno, Sudoku, or coloring books) once a week for 6 weeks;
    • or an educational control group who were provided with a handout on sleep promotion.
    • Thirty of 33 people completed the study, indicating the feasibility of all programs.
  • All groups showed significant improvements in insomnia, with the cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia group showing the largest improvement. The cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia group and educational control group also showed improvements in sleep quality and fatigue. Only the cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia group showed significant improvements in sleep self-efficacy (people’s beliefs that they could improve sleep problems) and depression.
  • The authors note that – since all groups showed some effectiveness and people may not have access to someone trained in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia – perhaps an approach can be used where education can be provided and then “stepped up” to cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia if necessary. The results indicate that more than one strategy can be used to address insomnia – read more.
Feasibility and treatment effect of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia in individuals with multiple sclerosis: A pilot randomized controlled trial” is published by Dr. Catherine Siengsukon and colleagues (University of Kansas Medical Center) in MS and Related Disorders.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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