Investigating the effect of micronutrients on chronic insomnia in teachers: a multiple-baseline design
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Over the last six years, Canterbury residents have lived through two major earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks, with such events negatively impacting psychological health. Research shows rates of post-traumatic stress symptoms in children have doubled post-quake, and a classroom containing children who are experiencing chronically high physiological arousal has been shown to be a stressful environment for teachers. Such stress therefore negatively impacts teachers’ ability to sleep well, meaning many Christchurch teachers may suffer from insomnia, a debilitating condition leading to psychological distress and often comorbid with other mental health conditions. The present research sought to investigate the use of a broadspectrum micronutrient formula called EMPowerplus (EMP+) for chronic insomnia in teachers. This study examined the effect of EMP+ over an 8-10 week period using a multiple-baseline design with placebo. Seventeen teachers were randomized to one of three baseline sequences where they completed a one week baseline period, before receiving five, nine, or 14 days, of placebo as well as 8-10 weeks of the micronutrient formula. After completion of the trial, a three-month follow up was conducted. All participants completed the trial, and results showed a statistically reliable and clinically significant decrease in insomnia severity (Cohen’s dav = - 1.37), on at least one or more aspects of the sleep diary, and on emotional exhaustion (Cohen’s dav = -1.08). EMP+ also statistically significantly reduced insomnia severity compared to placebo (Cohen’s dav = -0.66). Statistically significant reduction was not seen in stress, anxiety and depression scores as compared to placebo, and these levels were not generally clinically raised to begin with. Sixteen out of 17 participants were compliant, and side effects were generally mild and transitory. The current study provides evidence for the beneficial effect of micronutrient supplementation on chronic insomnia in Christchurch teachers working in a stressful environment. Future research incorporating measurement of nutritional intake and proinflammatory biomarkers, as well as conducting comparisons to other conventional treatments, is recommended.