From Science

Since 2007, the sleep conditioning technique of sleep re-training has been studied at the Sleep Laboratories of Flinders University (Australia). This research has shown significant improvement in sleep latency, wakefulness and sleep duration. 

Intensive Sleep Retraining Treatment for Chronic Primary Insomnia: A Preliminary Investigation. J Harris, L Lack, H Wright, M Gradisar and A Brooks. European Sleep Research Society, J. Sleep Res., 16, 276–284, 2007 


The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of Intensive Sleep Retraining, a novel, short duration behavioural therapy in treating chronic primary insomnia. Seventeen consecutive volunteers from the general public (mean age = 39.1 years), meeting selection criteria for chronic primary insomnia participated in the treatment study. The study was performed as a case replication series.


Assessment involved sleep diary, actigraph and questionnaire measures of sleep and daytime functioning for a period of 2 weeks prior to, immediately after, and 6 weeks following the treatment. Treatment involved a single night of sleep deprivation, facilitating short sleep latencies (mean: 6.9 min) to a series of 50 brief nap opportunities.


Following treatment, Sleep Onset Latency significantly decreased by a mean of 30.5 min (SD = 28.3), Wake Time after Sleep Onset significantly decreased by a mean of 28 min (SD = 34.0), and Total Sleep Time significantly increased by 64.6 min (SD = 45.5). Significant improvements were also seen in the daytime functioning and psychological measures of fatigue and vigour, cognitive sleep anticipatory anxiety and self-efficacy for sleep. This brief therapy was effective in improving sleep and some daytime functioning and psychological questionnaire measures. These improvements were maintained up to 2 months following the treatment weekend.

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Intensive Sleep Retraining (ISR): A Brief Conditioning Treatment for Chronic Insomnia. J Harris, PhD1, L Lack, PhD, K Kemp, PhD, H Wright, PhD, R Bootzin, PhD. SLEEP, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2012


To investigate the effectiveness of intensive sleep retraining in comparison and combination with traditional behavioral intervention for chronic primary insomnia.


Seventy-nine volunteers with chronic sleep-onset insomnia (with or without sleep maintenance difficulties) were randomly assigned either to intensive sleep retraining (ISR), stimulus control therapy (SCT), ISR plus SCT, or the control (sleep hygiene) treatment condition. ISR treatment consisted of 50 sleep onset trials over a 25-h sleep deprivation period.


Treatment response was assessed with sleep diary, activity monitoring, and questionnaire measures. The active treatment groups (ISR, SCT, ISR+SCT) all resulted in significant improvements in sleep onset latency and sleep efficiency, with moderate to large effect sizes from pre- to post-treatment.

Wake time after sleep onset decreased significantly in the SCT and ISR+SCT groups. Total sleep time increased significantly in the ISR and ISR+SCT treatment groups. Participants receiving ISR (ISR, ISR+SCT) experienced rapidly improved SOL andTST during treatment, suggesting an advantage of rapid improvements in sleep in response to ISR. Although there were few statistically significant differences between groups on individual variables, ISR+SCT resulted in consistently larger effect sizes of change than other treatments, including questionnaire measures of sleep quality, sleep self-efficacy, and daytime functioning. The combination treatment group (ISR+SCT) showed trends to outperform other active treatment groups with fewer treatment dropouts, and a greater proportion of treatment responders with 61% reaching “good sleeper” status.

Treatment gains achieved at post-treatment in the active treatment groups were largely maintained throughout follow-up eriods to 6 months.

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