Major New Digital CBT Study Links Better Sleep To Better Overall Health

Digital insomnia program associated with improved well-being, mental health and quality of life

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Digital programs for improving sleep may improve overall health as well, according to new research published in JAMA Psychiatry.

In a year-long study at the University of Oxford involving 1,711 people, researchers found that a digital program based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (dCBT) improved not only insomnia symptoms, but functional health, psychological well-being and sleep-related quality of life.**
Study Implementation and Results 
Study participants received dCBT using Big Health’s Sleepio™ program (and associated iOS app). Delivery was structured into six sessions, lasting an average of 20 minutes each, with participant access to the intervention up to 12 weeks.Online assessments took place at 0 (baseline), 4 (mid-treatment), 8 (post-treatment), and 24 (follow-up) weeks. Program content was based on CBT manuals and included behavioral, cognitive and educational components. Additional study findings were as follows:

  • In the dCBT group, 689 participants (80.8%) logged on for at least 1 session, 491 participants (57.6%) completed at least 4 sessions, and 413 participants (48.4%) completed all 6 sessions.
  • At weeks 4, 8 and 24, dCBT was associated with significant improvement in global health and mental well-being. Improvements in insomnia mediated these outcomes.
  • Symptoms of depression, anxiety, sleepiness and cognitive failures all demonstrated significant differences in favor of dCBT at weeks 4, 8 and 24 reflecting small effect sizes.
  • There were moderate to large effects observed at weeks 4, 8 and 24 for fatigue.
  • Regarding productivity at work due to sleep problems, results showed a small to moderate improvement after dCBT relative to control.
  • A significant but small effect in terms of reduced absenteeism attributed to poor sleep and increased job satisfaction was observed at week 24.
  • There were no significant effects at any time on relationship functioning.

“These findings underline the tremendous importance of sleep to general health,” said study lead author Colin Espie, Oxford University professor of Sleep Medicine and Chief Medical Officer of Big Health. “Sleep ranks with air, water and food as one of the essentials of life, yet 10% to 12% of the population don’t get enough of it due to insomnia. Furthermore, most people who seek help with insomnia do so because of its negative impact on their daytime quality of life. 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.”

Insomnia has been identified as a risk factor for the development of mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Though insomnia has traditionally been treated with pharmaceuticals, new guidelines published in 2016 by the American College of Physicians recommend that CBT be used first-line, ahead of sleeping pills. A prior study of Sleepio is referenced in those guidelines and digital programs based on CBT are becoming an increasingly popular option for following the guideline recommendation.

A recent independent study by the Henry Ford Health System, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, found that Sleepio achieved outcomes comparable in effect size to antidepressants in addressing depression. Another large randomized controlled trial published in The Lancet showed that Sleepio improved outcomes for paranoia, hallucinations and overall mental health.

“In clinical studies, dCBT has repeatedly achieved statistically significant and clinically meaningful results for outcomes including sleep, mental health and daytime functioning,” Espie said. “Our latest results indicate that dCBT can be an effective, inexpensive way to help insomnia sufferers achieve better health over the long term, through behavior change.”

With this study publication, Sleepio is the subject of 33 peer-reviewed papers published in the clinical literature, including 8 randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Big Health’s Sleepio program is used by more than 1 million people through employers such as Boston Medical Center, Comcast and The Hartford.

* Study funded by Big Health (Sleepio) Ltd. Independent research supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre, NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, and the Dr Mortimer & Theresa Sackler Foundation.

** Methodology: The DIALS: Digital Insomnia Therapy to Assist Your Life as Well as Your Sleep Study, was conducted online among a two-arm parallel group randomized trial of 1,711 adults with self-reported symptoms of insomnia [1,329 Female (77.7%), mean age 48 years old], between December 2015 and December 2016.

About Big Health
Big Health’s purpose is to help millions back to good mental health, which it does by creating Digital Medicine: fully automated and highly personalized behavioral medicine programs for mental health.

Big Health’s first solution, Sleepio, is a digital sleep improvement program featuring Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques designed by Prof Colin Espie (University of Oxford). In addition to helping sufferers make the changes necessary to overcome insomnia, it also acts as a stigma-free way to help improve anxiety and depression at population scale.

Sleepio is backed by the world’s leading evidence base for any digital therapeutic, with 33 peer-reviewed papers including 8 randomized controlled trials. Under controlled conditions, 76% of insomnia sufferers using Sleepio achieved healthy sleep, and in a clinical audit study 68% of NHS depression and anxiety patients using Sleepio moved to recovery.

With offices in London and San Francisco, Big Health’s products are now being used by large multinational employers and major health plans to help improve the sleep and mental health of over 1 million people across 60+ countries.

Media Contact
Firebrand Communications for Big Health
Maura Lafferty