Chronic Insomniac? There’s an App for That

Photo: iStock/OcusFocus.

By Lola Augustine Brown


New research out of the University of Virginia has shown that a focused online therapy program can help insomniacs get more and better shut-eye.

The study involved 303 adults, some of whom were randomly selected to use a program named SHUTi (Sleep Healthy Using the Internet). The rest of the group were given access to online patient information on insomnia. All of the participants were chosen because they had long-term insomnia and had used or were still using medication or supplements in efforts to deal with the problem in the past.

The online treatment relies on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is known to help with insomnia. Access to a therapist can involve a significant cost, however, and not enough therapists specialize in sleep disorders, so a working app is a highly useful alternative.

Participants took part in CBT exercises before bed for nine weeks, and then completed daily sleep diaries and had follow up interviews with researchers at the end of the course, after six months and at one year.

The results were impressive: when compared with the control group, 69.7% of those who had used the app saw improvement, and when they were checked in on a year after using SHUTi, 56.6% were remained free of insomnia. As for the control group—those given access to insomnia information only—only 27% of them were sleeping normally after a year.

SHUTi is available online at a cost of $135 US for 16 weeks of access, though it apparently takes only need six weeks to complete the course and see results. There are other CBT-based insomnia solutions out there, and you can also seek out conventional CBT if you have access to and the funds to see a therapist.

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