A randomized controlled trial of cognitive-behavior therapy plus bright light therapy for adolescent delayed sleep phase disorder

Michael Gradisar*, Hayley Dohnt, Greg Gardner, Sarah Paine, Karina Starkey, Annemarie Menne, Amy Slater, Helen Wright, Jennifer L. Hudson, Edward Weaver, Sophie Trenowden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To evaluate cognitive-behavior therapy plus bright light therapy (CBT plus BLT) for adolescents diagnosed with delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD). Design: Randomized controlled trial of CBT plus BLT vs. waitlist (WL) control with comparisons at pre- and post-treatment. There was 6-month follow-up for the CBT plus BLT group only. Setting: Flinders University Child & Adolescent Sleep Clinic, Adelaide, South Australia. Patients: 49 adolescents (mean age 14.6 ± 1.0 y, 53% males) diagnosed with DSPD; mean chronicity 4 y 8 months; 16% not attending school. Eighteen percent of adolescents dropped out of the study (CBT plus BLT: N = 23 vs WL: N = 17). Interventions: CBT plus BLT consisted of 6 individual sessions, including morning bright light therapy to advance adolescents' circadian rhythms, and cognitive restructuring and sleep education to target associated insomnia and sleep hygiene. Measurements and Results: DSPD diagnosis was performed via a clinical interview and 7-day sleep diary. Measurements at each time-point included online sleep diaries and scales measuring sleepiness, fatigue, and depression symptoms. Compared to WL, moderate-to-large improvements (d = 0.65-1.24) were found at post-treatment for CBT plus BLT adolescents, including reduced sleep latency, earlier sleep onset and rise times, total sleep time (school nights), wake after sleep onset, sleepiness, and fatigue. At 6-month follow-up (N = 15), small-to-large improvements (d = 0.24-1.53) continued for CBT plus BLT adolescents, with effects found for all measures. Significantly fewer adolescents receiving CBT plus BLT met DPSD criteria at post-treatment (WL = 82% vs. CBT plus BLT = 13%, P < 0.0001), yet 13% still met DSPD criteria at the 6-month follow-up. Conclusions: CBT plus BLT for adolescent DSPD is effective for improving multiple sleep and daytime impairments in the immediate and long-term. Studies evaluating the treatment effectiveness of each treatment component are needed. Clinical Trial Information: Australia & New Zealand Trials Registry Number: ACTRN12610001041044.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1671-1680
Number of pages10
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011

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