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Who benefits from adolescent sleep interventions? Moderators of treatment efficacy in a randomized controlled trial of a cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based group sleep intervention for at-risk adolescents.


BACKGROUND:The aim of this study was to test moderators of therapeutic improvement in an adolescent cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based group sleep intervention. Specifically, we examined whether the effects of the program on postintervention sleep outcomes were dependent on participant gender and/or measures of sleep duration, anxiety, depression, and self-efficacy prior to the interventions. METHOD:Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial conducted with 123 adolescent participants (female = 59.34%; mean age = 14.48 years, range 12.04-16.31 years) who had elevated levels of sleep problems and anxiety symptoms. Participants were randomized into either a group sleep improvement intervention (n = 63) or group active control 'study skills' intervention (n = 60). The sleep intervention ('Sleep SENSE') was cognitive behavioral in approach, incorporating sleep education, sleep hygiene, stimulus control, and cognitive restructuring, but also had added anxiety-reducing, mindfulness, and motivational interviewing elements. Components of the active control intervention ('Study SENSE') included personal organization, persuasive writing, critical reading, referencing, memorization, and note taking. Participants completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Spence Children's Anxiety Scale (SCAS), Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), and General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) and wore an actigraph and completed a sleep diary for five school nights prior to the interventions. Sleep assessments were repeated at postintervention. The trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12612001177842; RESULTS:The results showed that compared with the active control intervention, the effect of the sleep intervention on self-reported sleep quality (PSQI global score) at postintervention was statistically significant among adolescents with relatively moderate to high SCAS, CES-D, and GSE prior to the intervention, but not among adolescents with relatively low SCAS, CES-D, and GSE prior to the intervention. The results were consistent across genders. However, the effects of the sleep intervention on actigraphy-measured sleep onset latency and sleep diary-measured sleep efficiency at postintervention were not dependent on actigraphy-measured total sleep time, SCAS, CES-D, or GSE prior to the intervention. CONCLUSIONS:This study provides evidence that some sleep benefits of adolescent cognitive-behavioral sleep interventions are greatest among those with higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms, suggesting that this may be an especially propitious group to whom intervention efforts could be targeted. Furthermore, adolescents with lower levels of self-efficacy may need further targeted support (e.g. additional motivational interviewing) to help them reach treatment goals.

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