An expert from Loughborough University in Britain has developed a social network platform called ‘Sleepful’ to help insomniacs access online a promising “talking therapy”.
Called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), the therapy is based on evidence that falling asleep is strongly influenced by two psychological processes – learning and thinking.
Good sleepers learn to feel sleepier as a result of going to bed, and find little difficulty in “winding down” their thoughts before going to sleep.
People with insomnia, on the other hand, learn to feel more alert in bed, and often describe their minds as “racing”.
“CBT-I is a ‘talking therapy’ which offers a range of effective strategies to increase sleepiness in bed, control pre-sleep thoughts and worries, deal practically with periods of night-time wakefulness and appropriately manage fatigue during the day,” said Kevin Morgan, director of the Clinical Sleep Research Unit (CSRU) at Loughborough.
Treatments involve adjusting sleep habits, learning techniques to reduce worries and increase relaxation at night, general education about ‘sleep hygiene’, and self-monitoring using daily sleep diaries.
“Unlike drugs, CBT-I addresses the root causes of insomnia – safely and lastingly,” he added.
The website contains a structured eight-step treatment programme of CBT for insomnia, a mobile phone ‘app’ which records sleep patterns, a section on frequently asked questions (FAQs) and, crucially, an online social network where people with insomnia can talk to fellow sufferers.