Successful insomnia treatment may require nothing more than a placebo
A new study published in Brain indicates that successful treatment for insomnia may not actually require complicated neurofeedback (direct training of brain functions). Rather, it appears patients who simply believe they’re getting neurofeedback training appear to get the same benefits.
Insomnia affects between 10 and 35% of the population worldwide. However, despite the burden of insomnia on our society, only few studies have addressed this issue non-pharmacologically. Researchers here recruited thirty patients with primary insomnia, who underwent neurofeedback treatment and placebo-feedback treatment over several weeks.
In the study researchers sought to test whether earlier findings on the positive effect of neurofeedback on sleep quality and memory could also be replicated in a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Patients spent nine nights and twelve sessions of neurofeedback and twelve sessions of placebo-feedback training (sham) in researchers’ laboratory.
As this study focuses on neurofeedback effects on EEG, sleep and quality of life in insomnia patients, insomnia patients underwent this procedure before and after real as well as placebo neurofeedback training. In between the first and second, as well as the third and fourth of these visits insomnia patients completed twelve sessions of neurofeedback treatment and twelve sessions of placebo-feedback treatment, i.e. a placebo or sham condition (with real EEG feedback, yet on varying frequency bands). The order of trainings, that is, real or placebo neurofeedback treatment was counterbalanced across subjects and the twelve sessions were completed within 4 weeks. Participants’ sleep-wake cycle was assessed using eight sleep laboratory nights, as well as sleep diaries and actigraphy over the course of the whole protocol.
Researchers found both neurofeedback and placebo-feedback to be equally effective as reflected in subjective measures of sleep complaints, suggesting that the observed improvements were due to unspecific factors such as experiencing trust and receiving care and empathy from experimenters. In addition, these improvements were not reflected in objective EEG-derived measures of sleep quality… Read More>>
Source: Medical Xpress