Brief Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Pilot Study

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Main idea: This pilot study demonstrates the feasibility/acceptability of brief behavioral therapy for patients with IBS and poor sleep. Additionally, this study provides preliminary evidence to suggest that treatment of sleep difficulties in patients with IBS may improve IBS symptom outcomes.

Abstract

Up to 60% of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) report fatigue and 50% meet the criteria for clinical insomnia. Recent studies have demonstrated a link between poor sleep and next-day IBS symptoms. However, no study to date has evaluated behavioral therapy to treat poor sleep in IBS. The aim of the current pilot study is to test the feasibility of behavioral therapy for insomnia among patients with IBS and poor sleep.

A total of 25 participants were randomized in the study, 13 to BBT-I and 12 to the control group. Three participants dropped out of the treatment group. Satisfaction with the treatment was high. At follow-up, there were significant differences between groups in measures of sleep quality and insomnia severity. There were trends toward significance in IBS severity score with 40% of the BBT-I sample reporting a clinically meaningful drop in symptoms compared to 17% of the control group. Similar trends were observed with belly pain and global improvement scores.

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