Researchers from NICM Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University are inviting volunteers to participate in a new clinical trial examining the effectiveness of a herbal formula to treat chronic insomnia.
The university is looking for people over 18 and who have experienced difficulty sleeping at least three times a week and for at least three months. 90 participants will receive either the herbal formula – a traditional Chinese herbal formula widely use in hospitals in China for over 30 years, or a placebo.
Researchers will be measuring key areas including: insomnia severity, sleep parameters, fatigue levels, psychological status, quality of life, and adverse events before treatment, mid-treatment, post-treatment, and at a one-month follow up.
Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. It affects one-third of Australians and can have severe consequences on physical health, mental health and daily performance. Causes include stress, anxiety and depression, and some medications. Digital gadgets and long working hours have also been blamed.
A recent inquiry into sleep awareness in Australia has called for the issue to be made a national priority, and for sleep to be recognised as the “third pillar” of a healthy lifestyle alongside diet and exercise. It estimated the financial cost of poor sleep at $26.2 billion a year.
Lead researcher, Yoann Birling from NICM Health Research Institute says he hoped the trial would offer a safe, effective alternative to patients who did not experience relief using current treatments.
“Chronic insomnia – which occurs when a person experiences disrupted sleep at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months - is a multi-dimensional condition with long-term impacts including cardiovascular problems, depression and anxiety,” Mr Birling said.
“Current treatments include hypnotic drugs, which can have side effects and lead to possible dependency, or psychotherapy, which can be difficult to access and demands a long-term commitment including behaviour change.”
“Previous studies suggest people are looking for a non-pharmacological treatments for insomnia, which our study will also explore through qualitative methods.”
Mr Birling says some early clinical trials in China have so far delivered promising results, however, more research is needed to obtain conclusive results
“Our study will look for evidence of the safety and effectiveness of this formula and determine whether its benefit continues after an initial five-week treatment regime.”
If you have experienced trouble sleeping you may be eligible to join the study, for more information visit www.nicm.edu.au/insomniastudy
Yoann Birling is a recipient of a NICMHRI-Blackmores Institute Scholarship.
To learn more about the the NICM Scholarships, and the work conducted by the recipients click here.