Sleep coaching: non-pharmacological treatment of non-restorative sleep in Austrian railway shift workers

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Abstract

Sleep coaching by Holzinger & Klösch™ is a new, Gestalt therapy-based holistic approach to non-pharmacological treatment of non-restorative sleep. It includes psychotherapeutic aspects which enable participants to improve their sleep quality by developing their own coping strategies as a daily routine. Dream work and relaxation techniques are also part of the programme. The aim of this study was to measure the effectiveness of a two-day sleep coaching seminar on sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and work and life quality in shift workers employed in an Austrian railway company (Österreichische Bundesbahnen, ÖBB). Thirty shift workers (28 male; mean age=24±45.90, age range 24–56 years) answered the same survey before and six months after the seminar (baseline and follow-up) containing items of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS), their chronotype, personality factors, and burnout risk factors. The baseline findings in this group were compared with those of non-completers (who did not take the follow-up survey) (N=154) to see if the two groups differed significantly enough to create a bias among completers (who took the follow-up survey as well). Groups differed significantly in burnout levels as well as sleep duration, but not in the distribution of critical PSQI and ESS values. The two-day sleep coaching seminar resulted in a significant improvement in total PSQI score and subjective sleep quality and in a significant reduction in diurnal fatigue, sleep latency, and daytime sleepiness. Nevertheless, more research with a larger sample and a longitudinal design is needed to establish the long-term effects of sleep coaching.

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