Sleep disturbances in treatment-seeking OCD-patients: Changes after concentrated exposure treatment

Scand J Psychol. 2018 Apr;59(2):186-191. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12417. Epub 2017 Dec 15.


Research indicates that patients with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) frequently suffer from comorbid sleep difficulties, and that these difficulties often are not clinically recognized and diagnosed. There has been limited research investigating if comorbid sleep difficulties impair treatment outcome for OCD and if the sleep difficulties change following OCD-treatment. Thirty-six patients with obsessive compulsive disorder underwent concentrated exposure treatment delivered in a group over four consecutive days and were assessed with measures of OCD, depressive symptoms and sleep disturbance at three different time points (pre, post and 6 months follow-up). The sample was characterized by a high degree of comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders. At pre-treatment nearly 70% of the patients reported sleep difficulties indicative of primary insomnia. The results showed that patients had large reductions of OCD-symptoms as well as significant improvements in sleep disturbance assessed after treatment, and that these improvements were maintained at follow-up. Sleep disturbance did not impair treatment outcome, on the contrary patients with higher degree of sleep disturbance at pre-treatment had better outcome on OCD-symptoms after treatment. The results indicated that the majority of the OCD sample suffered from sleep disturbances and that these sleep disturbances were significantly reduced following adequate treatment of OCD without specific sleep interventions. However, a proportion of the patients suffered from residual symptoms of insomnia after treatment.

Keywords: Concentrated Exposure Treatment (cET); Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); Primary Insomnia (PI); sleep disturbance.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Implosive Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / complications
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / therapy*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy*
  • Young Adult