Relief for the pain and insomnia that often plague people with osteoarthritis doesn’t always have to come out of a bottle. According to a study published in the August 15 issue of Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, older adults suffering from osteoarthritis and sleeplessness experienced relief from insomnia and pain after getting cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-1), falling asleep faster and sleeping longer each night compared to those in a control group. Researchers Michael V. Vitiello, PhD, of the University of Washington, and colleagues studied six men and 45 women ages 55 or older and had osteoarthritis and difficulty sleeping. The CBT-I participants received eight weekly, two-hour group classes of four to eight participants, each led by an experienced clinical psychologist. Patients were placed on a strict schedule of bedtimes and waking times. Cognitive restructuring techniques helped participants change unrealistic beliefs and irrational fears regarding sleep or lack of it. They also received relaxation training and instruction about other factors that might affect their sleep, such as getting enough sunlight and exercise and avoiding alcohol and caffeine. Though results are preliminary and the study group was small and made up primarily of women, "these results further suggest that techniques to improve sleep, such as CBT-I, should be considered as additions to the various existing behavioral treatment programs for pain management in osteoarthritis, and possibly in other chronic pain conditions as well," the authors wrote.
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