Effects of treatment of sleep disorders on sleep, psychological and cognitive functioning and biomarkers in individuals with HIV/AIDS and under methadone maintenance therapy


Background: Poor sleep is a major complaint of people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and undergoing methadone maintenance therapy (MMT). We tested the impact of three different sleep-improving interventions (trazodone; sleep hygiene training; sleep hygiene training + trazodone) on sleep, psychological functioning and biomarkers in males with HIV and undergoing MMT.

Methods: A total of 75 male outpatients (mean age: 39.6 years) participated in a 12 week intervention. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the following conditions: trazodone 50 mg/d (TRAZ); sleep hygiene training (SHT); sleep hygiene training and trazodone (SHT + TRAZ). At baseline, and six and 12 weeks later, participants completed questionnaires covering subjective sleep and daytime sleepiness, and symptoms of depression and anxiety. In parallel, their cognitive performance (working memory; sustained attention) was assessed. Biomarkers (cortisol, BNDF, CD4+) were assessed at baseline and at the end of the study.

Results: Over time, sleep disturbances decreased and daytime functioning and overall sleep quality improved. More specifically, both sleep disturbances and daytime functioning improved in the two SHT conditions from baseline to week 6. Daytime functioning remained stable from week 6 to week 12. Over time, in all conditions symptoms of depression and anxiety declined from baseline to week 6 and remained lower from week 6 to week 12. Daytime sleepiness, symptoms of insomnia and sleep-disordered breathing remained unchanged. Sustained attention performance improved over time from baseline to week 6 and remained high through to week 12. Biomarkers remained unchanged.

Conclusions: In males with HIV and undergoing MMT, treating sleep disturbances over a period of six to 12 weeks had a positive impact on aspects of sleep disturbance, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and cognitive performance. The results indicate that sleep hygiene training, either as stand-alone or in combination with trazodone, can produce positive results.

Keywords: Cognitive performance; Cortisol; Human immunodeficiency virus; Methadone maintenance therapy; Sleep hygiene training; Trazodone.