Sleep Research Center Finding Ways to Fight Insomnia

Studies and Treatment Are a Rare Combination in Sleep Medicine

September 18, 2003

The University of Rochester Medical Center has just completed an expansion and renovation of its Sleep Research Center, allowing researchers to close in on next-generation treatments for insomnia sufferers. Some of the approaches being used or tested at the Center include:

  • New forms of standard sleeping pills that use a new, sustained-release delivery system to ensure good sleep and minimize daytime “hangover” effects.
  • Alternative forms of sleep medications based on the natural substances that cue the body when it’s time to sleep and wake.
  •  A new strategy to treat the daytime problems associated with insomnia rather than the insomnia itself.

“Relief for chronic insomnia may be on the way,” says Michael Perlis, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology and director of the Sleep Research Laboratory and Behavioral Sleep Medicine Service. “A major international effort is under way to develop novel treatments. This flurry of research activity is perhaps the largest of its kind in the field of sleep medicine.” Studies at the Sleep Research Center are ongoing.

In the Center’s latest study, researchers are studying the use of a new drug that could, in combination with behavioral treatment, help patients who experience daytime fatigue and compromised daytime function because of insomnia.

That combination of behavioral and medical approaches makes the Center unique in the field, says Perlis, who serves as chair of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s Section on Behavioral Sleep Medicine. The Center’s contributions to the field now include the first definitive text on the behavioral treatment of insomnia. Perlis is the co-editor of Treating Sleep Disorders: Principles and Practice of Behavioral Sleep Medicine. The book, just published, is designed as a resource for clinicians, with chapters on sleep apnea, narcolepsy, night terrors and other debilitating sleep disorders.

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