After eight weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy, participants reported significant reductions in the severity of their insomnia.
But sleep diaries and data from wrist monitors worn during the study showed that participants were not sleeping longer. Instead, their perceptions of sleep quality improved.
While the mechanism isn't well understood, Kay says he believes cognitive behavioral therapy modifies how older adults perceive the severity of their insomnia and its impact on their well-being.
A second study, published in a 2015 issue of Sleep Medicine Reviews, found that older adults with insomnia who underwent the therapy reported a 20-minute reduction in the time it took them to fall asleep, a 17-minute improvement in total sleep time and a 9 percent improvement in sleep quality.
"It's important to recognize that there are nonpharmaceutical treatments available for insomnia," Kay says. —Jodi Helmer