Trouble Sleeping? An Online Insomnia Program Might Help


Digital cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs can cut symptoms of insomnia and boost daytime functioning and health in people with the sleep disorder, say researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago and the University of Oxford in England, who collaborated on a study.

Chronic insomnia affects up to 12 percent of U.S. adults and is a risk factor for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and a number of mental health disorders. Treatment guidelines issued by the American College of Physicians recommend cognitive behavioral therapy as a first-line treatment for insomnia; but finding a provider to deliver CBT can sometimes be difficult.

More than 1,700 study participants used an IOS app and a digital sleep improvement program called Sleepio that features CBT techniques. They completed six 20-minute sessions and were given access to the program for 12 weeks. The researchers conducted assessments at the beginning of the study, then at four and eight weeks and at a 24-week follow-up.

According to the researchers, Sleepio is easily accessible, automated, and can be tailored to each user’s individual sleep pattern.

Digital cognitive behavioral therapy resulted in:

  • Small but significant decreases in symptoms of depression and anxiety and sleepiness and improved cognitive function
  • Moderate-to-large lessening of fatigue levels
  • Small-to-moderate improvements in work productivity
  • Small but significant reductions in absenteeism
  • Increased job satisfaction

Sourced from: JAMA Psychiatry