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Can Light and Sound Stimulation Alleviate Insomnia and Reduce Osteoarthritis Pain in Older Adults?

Raised of $3,530 Goal
Ended on 6/30/16
Campaign Ended
  • $264
  • 8%
  • Finished
    on 6/30/16

About This Project

I am studying the effect of light and sound stimulation for sleep promotion in older adults with insomnia and osteoarthritis pain. The purpose of the study is to find out if a 30-minute light and sound program will help people sleep better, and if sleep is improved, whether or not people will experience less pain. I also hope to understand the mechanism of the light and sound stimulation on the neurological responses in humans using the quantitative electroencephalograph.

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What is the context of this research?

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common condition associated with poor sleep, affecting 50% of older adults.1 People with comorbid insomnia tend to report greater pain than those without insomnia.2 A recent systematic review concluded that sleep disturbance is a stronger predictor of the development and intractability of chronic pain than is the opposing effect of pain on sleep disturbances.3 In addition, some research suggests that sleep affects the body’s ability to modulate pain.4 Taken together, this evidence suggests that improving sleep in chronic pain populations may contribute to reductions in pain. We propose to examine a new self-management intervention (light and sound stimulation) for insomnia to improve osteoarthritis-related insomnia and pain.

What is the significance of this project?

Standard treatment options for insomnia are medication and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I).5 Prescription medication treatment has good short term efficacy,6 however the clinical benefits do not persist after treatment discontinuation and there are notable side effects (e.g., dependence, rebound insomnia, cognitive impairment, and fall risks in older adults).7 CBT-I’s treatment effects are comparable to those observed for medications.8 However, credentialed CBT-I clinicians are not yet available in all healthcare systems.9 Thus, new self-management alternatives would greatly help reduce the burden of insomnia and potentially pain for individuals with osteoarthritis.

What are the goals of the project?

The goals of this project is to test a non-pharmacological and innovative approach (light and sound stimulation) for symptom management of two of the most common medical morbidities in older adults: insomnia and osteoarthritis pain. Specifically, I would like to know if the in-home self-administered AVS program will help people sleep better, and if sleep is improved, whether or not people will experience less pain. In addition, I am seeking funding to add an important measurement, the quantitative electroencephalograph ( QEEG), to the project. The QEEG processes the mechanism of the light and sound stimulation on the neurological responses in humans.


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The funding will allow us to add an important measurement, quantitative electroencephalograph (QEEG), to an ongoing research project. These measurements will allow us to study the human brainwave changes in response to light and sound intervention. Based on the preliminary data, we learned that the light and sound stimulation has the potential to promote sleep and possibly to reduce pain. However, there is limited knowledge (i.e. location of the brain, brainwave frequency responses) about how the light and sound intervention may have worked. The QEEG measurement produces 3-dimensional brain mapping that allows us to explore the neurological processes underlying human responses to light and sound stimulation. In addition, the funding will help to support an undergraduate research assistant for her work on the team. This is a great way to involve young scholars in science projects early in their career.

Meet the Team

Jean Tang
Jean Tang
Assistant Professor, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, APRN


University of Washington, School of Nursing
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Jaimie Dizon
Jaimie Dizon
Research Assistant


Seattle University, College of Nursing
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Team Bio

Senior mentors and collaborators

Michael V. Vitiello, PhD; Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; School of Medicine, University of Washington

Susan McCurry, PhD; Research Professor, Psychosocial & Community Health; School of Nursing, University of Washington

Barbara Riegel, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN; Professor of Nursing; Edith Clemmer Steinbright Chair of Gerontology; Director, Biobehavioral Research Center; School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania

Jean Tang

My program of research focuses on brainwave entrainment for the management of hyper-arousal related health conditions such as insomnia and hypertension. I am currently conducting research to evaluate the effectiveness of the slow brainwave light-sound stimulation for sleep promotion in people with comorbid insomnia and chronic pain. My general research interest is in the area of non-pharmacological approaches that empower self-regulation for health promotion.

Jaimie Dizon

I am a Seattle University Nursing student, pursuing to become a Wound Care Nurse. As weird as it sounds, I have always had an interest in wounds and loved watching the healing process of the treatment. Before I began my nursing studies, I was a student in University of Washington attempting to figure out what was the best pathway to get to my career. There, I had the opportunity to create networks in the UW's School of Nursing and discovered my interest in research. Since then, I have worked under several professors as a research assistant and so far it has been a wonderful experience.

Lab Notes

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Project Backers

  • 6Backers
  • 8%Funded
  • $264Total Donations
  • $44.00Average Donation
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