Ways to sleep better Learn more about Sleepio

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Information & Advice

Written on01/08/2012


Ways to sleep better: Learn more about Sleepio

The Science behined Sleepio - Professor Espie

How can I sleep better?

Sleepio has been developed by leading sleep scientist Professor Colin Espie. Here he explains the science behind the Sleepio programme.

Ways to sleep better: How does Sleepio work?

The Sleepio programme features proven cognitive behavioural therapy (or CBT) techniques. These help you address the mental (or "cognitive") factors associated with poor sleep, such as the "racing mind" and the worry of not being able to sleep.

The programme also helps you establish a healthy sleep pattern. You learn how to develop a "sleep-friendly" routine and to achieve a strong connection between being in bed and sleeping soundly. This means falling asleep and staying asleep becomes more automatic and natural.

CBT also helps people get a more reliable sleep from night to night. Most poor sleepers have a very unpredictable sleep pattern. They live with uncertainty of what the night will hold for them, compared with good sleepers, who can rely on their sleep being stable and satisfying.

Following a CBT sleep improvement programme helps many people feel much better during the daytime too, because their sleep improves and they feel less worried about their sleep. The techniques you learn may even be helpful for the stresses and strains of everyday life, helping you to feel more organised and more in control.

Why might I consider CBT for poor sleep?

If you've never heard of CBT before, it's what's known as "evidence-based therapy". That means it's been shown to be effective in clinical studies. In fact, the research on CBT for poor sleep goes back more than 30 years, showing it can help people get to sleep, stay asleep and feel better during the day.

The toughest test of whether a treatment works or not is a type of clinical trial known as the "randomised controlled trial" or RCT. CBT for poor sleep has been assessed in more than 100 randomised controlled trials, and the results show that on average 70 percent of people with even very long term poor sleep obtain lasting benefit from the treatment.1,2,3

Many poor sleepers say they would prefer to learn how to sleep better by following a practical approach based on CBT, rather than taking sleeping pills. And while the effects of sleeping pills are mostly short-term, CBT helps most people achieve sustained, long-term improvements in their sleep. CBT is advocated as the preferred option for persistent sleep problems in both the UK and the USA.

Is the Sleepio programme effective?

Sleepio is based on established techniques and the Sleepio team recently completed a randomised controlled trial to test the effectiveness of the Sleepio programme. The trial involved 164 people with persistent poor sleep (poor sleep that lasted three months or longer). These people were randomly allocated to one of three groups:

  1. Those given the genuine CBT-based Sleepio course
  2. Another group given a placebo, non-CBT course using the same online system
  3. A group that received no course at all

The results show the Sleepio course helped around 75 percent of people with persistent sleep problems to improve their sleep to healthy levels, compared with the placebo and no treatment conditions which had relatively little impact.

People using Sleepio on average fell asleep 50 percent faster and spent 60 percent less time awake during the night by the end of the course. In addition their energy and daytime wellbeing levels increased by 58 percent during the daytime and they rated their quality of sleep as having more than doubled (a 115 percent increase). Importantly, these improvements with Sleepio were found to be lasting - they were maintained when Sleepio did a follow-up test two months later.

Colin says: "I am confident, based on these results that Sleepio can be effective in helping many people improve disrupted and poor sleep.

"Remember, Sleepio is not intended to address any medical problem. If you have any reason to believe you are suffering from a pre-existing medical condition, or if you frequently struggle to stay awake during the day or fall asleep during the daytime without intending to, then please consult your doctor before starting the Sleepio course."



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References

1. Riemann D, Perlis ML. The treatments of chronic insomnia: A review of benzodiazepine receptor agonists and psychological and behavioral therapies. Sleep Med Rev 2009;13:205-214. 2. Irwin MR, Cole JC, Nicassio PM. Comparative meta-analysis of behavioral interventions for insomnia and their efficacy in middle-aged adults and in older adults 55+years of age. Health Psychol 2006;25:3-14. 3. Espie, C.A. 'Stepped care': a health technology solution for delivering Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a first line insomnia treatment. Sleep 2009;32:1549-1558. 4. NIH State-of-the-Science Conference Statement on Manifestations and Management of Chronic Insomnia in Adults. NIH Consens Sci State¬ments. 2005;Jun 13-15:22(2) 1-30. 5. Wilson, SJ, Nutt DJ, Alford C, et al. British Association for Psychopharmacology consensus statement on evidence-based treatment of insomnia, parasomnias and circadian rhythm disorders. J Psychopharmacol 2010;24:1577-1600.

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