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

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

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    169 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


    • Adolescents
    • Bright light therapy
    • Cognitive-behavior therapy
    • Delayed sleep phase disorder
    • Insomnia
    • Sleepiness


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