Cancer survivors have elevated rates of insomnia and depression. Insomnia increases risk for depression onset, and the Integrated Sleep and Reward (ISR) Model suggests that impairments in reward responding (e.g., ability to anticipate and/or experience pleasure) plays a central role in this relationship. Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is efficacious for treating chronic insomnia and reducing depression in cancer survivor populations. The effects of CBT-I on anticipatory and consummatory pleasure are theoretically and clinically meaningful, yet remain unexamined.
This secondary analysis of a pilot RCT (N = 40 cancer survivors with insomnia) explicated changes in anticipatory and consummatory pleasure and depression symptoms following a 4-session, synchronous, virtual CBT-I program versus enhanced usual care (referral to a behavioral sleep medicine clinic + sleep hygiene handout). Linear mixed models examined changes in anticipatory and consummatory pleasure and depression symptoms as predictors of changes in insomnia severity from baseline to post-intervention and 1-month follow-up.
CBT-I buffered against deterioration in anticipatory pleasure but not consummatory pleasure or depression symptoms. Across conditions, increased anticipatory pleasure was associated with insomnia reduction through 1-month follow-up, even after adjusting for changes in depression symptoms.
CBT-I may improve reward processing deficits in cancer survivors with insomnia. Findings provide support for the ISR Model and implicate pleasure as an important target for insomnia and depression.

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