Sleep-HD trial: short and long-term effectiveness of existing insomnia therapies for patients undergoing hemodialysis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Patients with end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) treated with hemodialysis (HD) experience many distressing symptoms. One frequently reported symptom is insomnia. There are unique issues about HD treatments and schedules that disrupt regular sleep/wake routines and possibly contribute to the high severity of insomnia. Despite evidence for broad-ranging health effects of insomnia, very few clinical trials have tested the efficacy of treatments for HD patients. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a recommended first-line therapy but largely inaccessible to HD patients in the United States, partly because they commit considerable amounts of time to thrice-weekly dialysis treatments. Another important reason could be the logistical and reimbursement challenges associated with providing behavioral health care at the dialysis center. CBT-I delivered by telehealth can overcome barriers to access, but its efficacy has never been rigorously tested for these patients. Pharmacotherapy is the most widely used treatment for insomnia; however, some drugs presently used are unsafe as they are associated with a higher risk for death for HD patients (benzodiazepines and zolpidem-like drugs). The efficacy and safety of other medications (trazodone) for the treatment of insomnia has never been tested for patients treated with HD.This trial tests the short- and long-term comparative effectiveness of 6-week treatment with telehealth CBT-I, trazodone, or medication placebo. This will be accomplished with a randomized controlled trial (RCT) in which 126 participants treated with HD in community-based dialysis facilities with chronic insomnia will be assigned 1:1:1 to telehealth CBT-I, trazodone, or medication placebo, respectively; short-term effectiveness of each treatment arm will be determined at the end of 6-weeks of treatment and long-term effectiveness at 25-weeks. The primary and secondary patient-reported outcomes will be assessed with computer-based telephone interviewing by research scientists blinded to treatment assignment; additional secondary outcomes will be assessed by participant interview and actigraphy.This clinical RCT will provide the first evidence for the comparative effectiveness of two distinct approaches for treating chronic insomnia and other patient-reported outcomes for patients receiving maintenance HD.NCT03534284 May 23, 2018. SLEEP-HD Protocol Version: 1.3.4 (7/22/2020).

publication date

  • October 2020