New app-delivered sleep therapy program

A new app-delivered sleep therapy program – Sleepio ­– is now available in Australia after receiving an official recommendation from the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The recent NICE report states the app, Sleepio, is a safe and effective treatment for people suffering from insomnia and could reduce the number of prescriptions for medications, which can become addictive.

The new program is only available via a Flinders University clinical trial, and following the recommendation from NICE, Dr Alexander Sweetman from Flinders University’s Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health is calling health care professionals and people suffering from insomnia to get in touch to learn how the app can be accessed.

“At present, Sleepio is only available in Australia through a clinical trial so it’s important doctors are aware it’s an option and patients can be referred to the program and assisted,” says Dr Sweetman.

“Our previous research has shown that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia (or ‘CBTi’) is the most effective treatment for insomnia and Sleepio is a self-administered version of that.”

Cognitive behavioural therapy works by targeting the underlying psychological, physiological, and behavioural causes of insomnia, in contrast to medications, which simply treat the symptoms.

Through the trial, Dr Sweetman is aiming to develop the pathway within the doctors’ central software program, to help GPs identify and refer patients to the specialised digital cognitive behavioural therapy program for insomnia.

“Currently the most common treatment for insomnia in Australia is sedative-hypnotic medications, or sleeping pills, which are potentially addictive and not effective over the long-term,” says Dr Sweetman.

“Instead, we have a treatment with cognitive behavioural therapy, proven effective in multiple clinical trials worldwide, we just need to provide GPs with more information, accessible guidelines and tools, as well as referral and treatment options to help them to help their patients manage insomnia.”

Health care professionals and patients interested in the trial should contact Dr Alexander Sweetman at alexander.sweetman@flinders.edu.au.

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