Dedicated Efforts for Improving Sleep Quality in Pediatrics, Adolescents: Sarah Honaker, PhD; Maureen McQuillan, PhD


The duo from Indiana University School of Medicine discussed the ongoing research initiatives to better understand sleep disorders among pediatrics, and ways to improve approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

"There is a tendency in medicine and in society to focus on the need to eliminate screens and/or to assume that screens are causing the insomnia. This can be very minimizing to kids with insomnia because it implies that there’s a simple solution and that a lifestyle factor is causing the insomnia."

Despite the high prevalence, high chronicity, and serious consequences of insomnia in adolescents, up-to-date research using consistent cognitive behavioral treatment for insomnia (CBT-I) methods in adolescents is lacking. Insomnia among adolescents can differ than other ages, as these individuals have slower accumulation of sleep drive and other lifestyle factors, including increased screen use and early school start times. In addition, teens may have circadian phase delay, with delayed melatonin secretion.

Presented at the 2023 SLEEP Annual Meeting, held June 3-7, in Indianapolis, Indiana, the DREAM-IT study was a way to gain better perspectives on the acceptability and feasibility of CBT-I for adolescents. Comprised of teens, parents, and providers, the trial highlighted several aspects to adolescent sleep, including sleep hygiene, stimulus control, sleep restriction, and cognitive restructuring. Across stakeholders, findings showed that limiting screens after bedtime was considered more feasible than before bedtime. Additionally, over 60% of adolescents were “not at all likely” to follow the stimulus control guideline of only using their bed for sleep.

While the negative impacts of screentime before bed have been well-documented, eliminating screens should not be considered the only way to address the root cause of insomnia, said Sarah Honaker, PhD. Honaker, along with her colleague Maureen McQuillan, PhD, sat down with NeurologyLive® at the meeting to discuss the different types of research initiatives needed to further understand insomnia in adolescents, and the proper management techniques needed. Both at Indiana University School of Medicine, the duo touched upon issues with underdiagnosis, ways to individualize CBT-I, and the next steps in disseminating the findings observed from DREAM-IT.

Click here for more coverage of SLEEP 2023.

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