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In order to test whether electrosleep is an effective therapeutic procedure, its effects were assessed on the most common of sleep disorders, sleep onset insomnia. The present research was designed to avoid the inadequacies of previous investigations by a) using a double blind procedure; b) using objective evaluation procedures (EEG recordings); and c) using the recommended number and distribution of treatments. Additionally, subjective sleep evaluation and personality-psychopathology data were obtained.

Ten volunteers with objectively established insomnia were randomly assigned to one of two experimental conditions. These conditions were electrosleep treatment and simulated electrosleep treatment. Initially, each subject (S) spend 3 successive nights in the sleep laboratory for the EEG-EOG monitoring of his night-time sleep patterns. This was followed by a series of 24 daytime "treatments,rdquo; each 15 minutes in duration. Following this phase, each S again spent 2 nights in the sleep laboratory, at which time post-treatment effects were measured. After 14 no-treatment days, each S returned to the sleep laboratory for follow-up measurement.

On the basis of EEG measures, the actual treatment group exhibited a statistically significant decline in the latency of sleep onset, percentage of total bed time awake, and percentage of total sleep time in stage 1 sleep. A significant increase in the percentage of total sleep time in stage 4 and total delta sleep was found. Additionally, subjectively reported latencies of sleep onset declined significantly. These post-treatment results were maintained at follow-up. Significant differences were not found in the simulated treatment group.

Possible group differences in age, chronicity of insomnia, psychopathology, sex, participation in psychotherapy, placebo reactivity and suggestibility arc discussed in terms of a "selective" placebo effect. These alternatives are discounted before concluding that electrosleep is truly an effective therapeutic procedure in the treatment of sleep onset insomnia.

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