By Rick Pietzak
Insomia can be more than just a nuisance for as many as 30 percent of older adults suffering from it. The inability to sleep is associated
with a number of health problems ranging from depression to diabetes,
resulting in many people turning to medicine or spending more time in bed
trying to catch up on missed sleep. This
spring, the AgeWise sleep research study at the University of Pittsburgh, led
Buysse, M.D., and Timothy
Monk, Ph.D., will treat its 100th older adult insomnia patient
using therapies which do not involve sleeping pills.
The AgeWise study, funded by a grant from the U.S. National Institute on Aging, aims to find
out what causes insomnia and how best to treat it.
“Sleeping pills are effective, at least in the short term. But
they can have significant side effects, including sedation, memory problems,
and unusual sleep-related behaviors. Behavioral treatments can provide a safe
and effective alternative,” said Dr. Buysse.
Researchers at the AgeWise program hope to learn more about
what happens to the brains of older adults when successfully treated for
insomnia. The therapies used are behavioral and teach
these older adults the principles of the sleep-wake cycle. So far, such
behavior modifications have worked well.
“Despite having chronic insomnia, often lasting for many
years, more than two-thirds of AgeWise participants no longer have insomnia by
the end of the treatment. Our hope is
that our findings will eventually lead to even better therapies for patients,” Dr.
The AgeWise program is currently seeking older adults who do
not have sleep apnea, but do have difficulty initiating or maintaining
sleep. Laboratory studies are done
before and after treatment, with each participant doing one of three different
studies: biological clock, stress reactivity or brain imaging. Between the studies, the participant is given
eight weekly individual treatment sessions by a trained therapist. There is no cost for the therapy, and the
participant is reimbursed for each of the laboratory studies and other research
Anyone interested in participating in the study should call 1-866-647-8283 or email AgeWise@upmc.edu
to see if they are eligible for the program.
Labels: Daniel Buysse, elderly, sleep, Timothy Monk