A preliminary study comparing sleep restriction and relaxation treatments for insomnia in older adults

J Gerontol. 1991 Jan;46(1):P1-8. doi: 10.1093/geronj/46.1.p1.


This study compared Sleep Restriction Therapy (SRT) and Relaxation Therapy (RLT) as treatments for insomnia in a sample of community-residing elderly (mean age, 69.7 years). SRT subjects (n = 10) and RLT subjects (n = 12) reported information about their sleep twice daily to a telephone recording machine for 2 weeks of baseline, 4 weeks of treatment, and 2 weeks at 3-month follow-up. Results showed sleep latency and waking after sleep onset were significantly reduced for both treatment groups under active treatment. Predictable reductions in time in bed and improved sleep efficiency reported during active treatment by SRT subjects were still apparent at 3-month follow-up; no corresponding changes were found for RLT. In both groups, increased total sleep time was reported at follow-up; the improvement for SRT subjects was approximately twice that seen in RLT. These findings, at this early stage in the development of behavioral treatments for insomnia in older adults, encourage further study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Beds
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Sleep Stages
  • Sleep*
  • Time Factors