Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Thelma Urbick

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Betz

Third Advisor

Dr. Chris Koronakos

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robert Brashear


Progressive relaxation training (PRT) and sedative-hypnotics (S-H) were compared as a treatment for insomnia in the elderly. This study used the following definition of insomnia: Sleeping less than six hours a night, a sleep onset latency (SOL) more than 30 minutes, and waking up one or more times a night. Individuals also had to exhibit these symptoms longer than six months and these complaints had to be present at least 50 percent of the time. This study was conducted with seniors ($N$ = 30) over a period of three weeks with the first week being baseline.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of PRT versus S-H treatment by evaluating the responses of subjects on a sleep diary where individuals self-reported their daily SOL, length of total sleep and number of times they were awake.

Seniors were screened by a clinical interview in order to rule out the presence of psychopathology or substance abuse. In order to be selected to participate in the study, seniors could also not be on any medication that interfered with sleep and had to be in good health as confirmed by a recent physical. Individuals who met the criteria were randomly assigned to PRT, S-H, or control groups. Subjects assigned to PRT were taught muscle-relaxation training in accordance with procedures delineated by Berstein and Borkovec (1973). Subjects taking S-H continued to take this medication as prescribed by their physicians.

Although the findings indicated that SOL, number of hours of sleep and number of times awake were not significantly different for the three weeks when using an ANOVA, differences were detected when an ANOVA with repeated measures was conducted. The findings indicated that there were significant differences when using an ANOVA with repeated measures for TSLP and AWKE for week three in comparison to week one indicating that treatment had an effect. In contrasting weeks two and three with week one there was a relationship for SOL, TSLP and AWKE between the three groups during week three. A week by group interaction occurred for AWKE and SOL showing that PRT was more effective than S-H or no treatment (control). Significant differences were found for week 3 for TSLP and all three groups improved their mean TSLP scores by week three, however, the PRT group improved more than S-H or control groups. Suggestions for further research were offered.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Counseling Commons