This is an interesting story about interesting research for a common problem. We appreciate the caveat at the end of the story – “Because this study was extremely small and presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal and confirmed in larger studies.” That would be one of the first things we’d expect in a story about such a small, short-term study.
As the story indicates, “Chronic insomnia — which the American Academy of Sleep Medicine attributes to about one out of every 10 Americans — can be difficult to treat.”
Not applicable. No discussion of costs but that’s understandable at this early stage of development.
The story didn’t adequately place the findings into context.
It stated: “While wearing the cooling cap, it took insomnia patients an average of 13 minutes to fall asleep and they spent 89 percent of their time in bed actually sleeping, about the same as controls who didn’t have insomnia (the latter group averaged 16 minutes to fall asleep and 89 percent of the time in bed sleeping).”
But it didn’t ever define the baseline degree of insomnia these trial patients experienced. In other words, how long did it usually take them to fall asleep and what percent of thier time in bed did they usually sleep?
There was no discussion of what would appear to be a question many people would have: didn’t wearing a cap that is presumably connected to some water supply actually interfere with anyone’s sleep? Did the control group patients wear a cap? If so, did it make it harder for them to sleep?
Very appropriate reminder at the very end of the story: “Because this study was extremely small and presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal and confirmed in larger studies.”
No disease-mongering of insomnia. Although how the 12 patients with insomnia compare to the “typical” patient with insomnia is hard to know from what was presented. Presumably people have insomnia for different reasons. Did they somehow identify a group that would be more likely to respond to this treatment? Specifically what were the criteria for participating? So while not “disease mongering”, it is unclear if these results are applicable to the average person with insomnia.
One independent sleep researcher was quoted.
The story included some good context:
“Medications can help, although many people complain of side effects, Kohler said. The most effective treatment is cognitive behavior therapy, which involves changes such as avoiding cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine before bed, and getting plenty of bright light in the morning but turning off the TV, computer and dimming the lights during a wind-down period, among other techniques for improving “sleep hygiene.”
The story makes it clear that the approach is experimental and not yet available to consumers.
A quote from an independent researcher establishes that this is not a totally new field of research: “we do know from many previous studies that as the body core temperature cools, our sleep improves, and with warming of the core temperature, we have more restless sleep.”
The story does not appear to rely on a news release.