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Bed partners may unintentionally contribute to the perpetuation of insomnia

June 04, 2017

Preliminary results from a new study show that partners of people who have insomnia may try to be supportive by engaging in a range of behaviors that unintentionally contradict treatment recommendations.

Results show that 74 percent of partners encouraged an early bedtime or late wake time, which is in direct conflict with the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI). Forty-two percent also encouraged doing other things in bed, such as reading or watching TV, and 35 percent encouraged naps, caffeine or reduced daytime activities.

"It is possible that partners are unwittingly perpetuating insomnia symptoms in the patient with insomnia," said lead author Alix Mellor, PhD, postdoctoral research fellow and coordinator of the Researching Effective Sleep Treatments (REST) project in the School of Psychological Sciences at Monash University in Victoria, Australia. "It is therefore important for more data to be collected to determine whether insomnia treatments may better benefit patients and their partners by proactively assessing and addressing bed partner behaviors in treatment programs."

The research team was led by Mellor and chief investigator Sean P. A. Drummond, PhD, professor of clinical neuroscience at the Monash Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences. They studied 31 partners, including 14 women, of individuals seeking treatment for insomnia as part of a randomized, controlled trial investigating partner-assisted interventions for insomnia. Partners completed several questionnaires at baseline: the Family Accommodation Scale, Beck Anxiety Inventory, and Dyadic Adjustment Scale. The insomnia patients also completed baseline questionnaires, including the Insomnia Severity Index, and kept a sleep diary for one week prior to starting treatment.

Results also show that bed partners made accommodations that affected their own functioning, including their sleep and life outside of work. This may explain why partners who attempted to be helpful experienced more anxiety, even though the insomnia patients perceived the relationship to be more satisfying.

"Our preliminary results suggest that while some of these behaviors make the patient feel supported, their partner may be experiencing more anxiety," said Mellor.

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and will be presented Sunday, June 4, in Boston at SLEEP 2017, the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), which is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.
-end-
The study was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council Project Grant #APP1105458.

Note to reporters: The presentation at SLEEP 2017 includes data that have been updated since the abstract was submitted for publication.

Abstract Title: Bed Partner Accommodation of Insomnia in Treatment-Seeking Couples
Abstract ID:
0382
Presentation Date:
Sunday, June 4
Poster Presentation:
5 p.m. to 7 p.m., board 106
Presenter:
Alix Mellor, PhD

For a copy of the abstract or to arrange an interview with the study author or an AASM spokesperson, please contact AASM Communications Coordinator Corinne Lederhouse at 630-737-9700, ext. 9366, or clederhouse@aasmnet.org.



About the American Academy of Sleep Medicine


Established in 1975, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) improves sleep health and promotes high quality, patient-centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. The AASM has a combined membership of 10,000 accredited member sleep centers and individual members, including physicians, scientists and other health care professionals. For more information about sleep and sleep disorders, including a directory of AASM-accredited member sleep centers, visit http://www.sleepeducation.org.

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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