A Sleep Hygiene and Relaxation Intervention for Children With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

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Abstract

Background:

Sleep disturbance and fatigue are common and distressing pediatric cancer-related outcomes. Sleep hygiene education and relaxation techniques are recommended to improve sleep in healthy children and adult cancer survivors. No studies have tested these interventions to improve sleep and fatigue for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in the home setting.

Objectives:

The aim of this study is to establish the feasibility and acceptability of a sleep hygiene and relaxation intervention to improve sleep and fatigue for children receiving maintenance chemotherapy for ALL. The child's fatigue and sleep data were collected to inform sample size calculations for a future trial.

Methods:

In this pilot randomized controlled trial, 20 children were allocated randomly to the sleep intervention or control group. The sleep intervention group received a 60-minute educational session to discuss sleep and fatigue in children with cancer and strategies to improve sleep, including use of 2 storybooks to teach deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Objective sleep data were collected using actigraphy and fatigue was measured using the Childhood Cancer Fatigue Scale.

Results:

The intervention was acceptable to families, and feasibility of the intervention and data collection was clearly established. Although not statistically significant, increases in mean nighttime sleep and decreases in mean wake time after sleep onset in the sleep intervention group represented clinically important improvements.

Conclusions:

This pilot study demonstrated the feasibility and acceptability of a sleep hygiene and relaxation intervention for children undergoing maintenance chemotherapy for ALL.

Implications for practice:

Given the clinically important improvements in sleep observed, replication in a larger, adequately powered randomized controlled trial is merited.

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