Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Found To Reduce Insomnia

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Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Found To Reduce Insomnia
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults typically need seven hours or more of sleep to be healthy. However, statistics from a study conducted in 2018 by researchers from Perelman School of Medicine (which is part of the University of Pennsylvania) found that about 25 percent of Americans were affected by acute insomnia. Out of these people with acute insomnia, 75 percent were able to recover without their condition developing further into chronic insomnia while 25 percent developed poor sleep habits and chronic insomnia. [1]

How Do You Know If You Have Insomnia?

The researchers involved with this particular study defined acute insomnia as difficulty falling or staying asleep for a minimum of 3 nights a week for two consecutive weeks within three months. Chronic sleep, on the other hand, was defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep three nights a week for two consecutive weeks for more than three months. The University of Pennsylvania’s study is one of the first of its kind to include data from good sleepers: people who need less than 15 minutes to fall asleep and/or people who wake up during sleep but only for 15 minutes or less. They used this data to study the transition of good sleepers to people with acute and chronic insomnia. Apparently, 75 percent of the people affected by insomnia were able to recover good sleep within 12 months. 21 percent continued to experience poor quality sleep with episodes of acute insomnia, and six percent developed full blown chronic insomnia. [1]

What Can You Do To Improve Your Sleep?

Reports from a study conducted by Northwester Medicine and Rush University Medical Center found that living a ‘purposeful’ life leads to few sleep disturbances during the night, therefore improving overall sleep quality in the long run. This study was based on older adults aged 60 and older but the researchers are confident that the data they were able to collect could likely be applied to the general public. The actual number of participants in the study was 823 non-demented older adults who were aged between 60 and 100. To give you an idea of the study’s demographics, more than 50% of the participants were African-American while 77% were female. [2]

While there are many factors that are related to poor quality of sleep, one of the more common among the aging population is sleep apnea – and it becomes more prevalent with age. This kind of sleep disturbance can cause excessive tiredness during waking hours. Restless leg syndrome interrupts sleep because of uncomfortable sensations in the legs that make falling asleep more difficult.

Out of all these participants, those who believed they had a purpose in life were 63 percent less likely to experience sleep apnea and 52 percent less likely to have restless less syndrome: two factors which contributed to moderately better sleep quality. [3]

Dr. Jason Ong, one of the senior researchers of the study who is an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern says that having purpose could potentially be an “effective, drug-free strategy” for a population that is being plagued with sleep problems and insomnia. Through various therapies, this purpose in life could be developed and turned into an actual treatment modality for this condition. [3]

Mindfulness therapy is what lead author Arlene Turner suggests, which can be used to specifically target purpose in life and sleep quality. Specifically, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or MBCT uses cognitive-behavioral therapy and stress reduction in a set number of sessions, usually in group therapy. This type of therapy was initially used to manage depression but can be used for a variety of other conditions as well. Stress-reduction plays a big role in mindfulness therapy; since stressors can hinder the formation of a life purpose. Therapeutically, MBCT encourages participants to “adopt a new way of being” by focusing their thoughts and feelings which can improve emotional regulation and help develop a sense of purpose in one’s life. [4]

References:

[1] Penn Medicine News. 1 in 4 Americans Develop Insomnia Each Year. https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2018/june/1-in-4-americans-develop-insomnia-each-year

[2] Turner, A., Smith, C. & Ong, J. (2017). Is purpose in life associated with less sleep disturbance in older adults? https://sleep.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s41606-017-0015-6

[3] Paul, M. (2017). A purpose in life by day results in better sleep at night. https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2017/july/purpose-in-life-results-better-sleep/

[4] Sipe, W. & Eisendrath, S. (2012). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: theory and practice. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22340145

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