Insomnia is a massive problem for many, with sleep clinics experiencing month-long waiting lists for CBT appointments. So news that people can seek help online can only be a good thing – but how effect is online treatment? According to a new year-long study…very!
In fact, researchers found that participants with insomnia who accessed CBT training online experienced improvements in sleep, daytime functioning and overall health.
The study, which lasted a year, involved 1,711 people and was carried out by the University of Oxford and Northwestern Medicine.
The online programme delivered CBT via a programme and app called Sleepio, and was also able to automatically tailor the treatment to different people based on their sleep patterns. Participants received six sessions of around 20 minutes, with access to the programme for 12 weeks. Just under half of participants completed all of the sessions.
Significant improvements were seen in symptoms of depression and anxiety from four weeks onwards. Small but significant improvements were also seen in participants needing time off work because of poor sleep, and they also had increased job satisfaction after 24 weeks.
“We can reach many more patients with insomnia by using a digitally based program,” said Jason Ong, study co-author and associate professor of neurology in sleep medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
What are the health risks of insomnia?
As well as making you feel rubbish, insomnia is a risk factor for the development of mental health disorders, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
‘Sleep ranks with air, water and food as one of the essentials of life, yet 10 to 12 percent of the population [of America] doesn’t get enough of it due to insomnia,’ said lead study author Colin Espie, Oxford University professor of sleep medicine and chief medical officer of Big Health, a provider of automated and personalized behavioral medicine programs for mental health.
‘Our study suggests that digital medicine could be a powerful way to help millions of people not just sleep better, but achieve better mental and physical well-being as a result.’