Today, digital medicine company Big Health announced a partnership with Castlight Health, a health navigation platform, to offer its first product: Sleepio, a digital sleep improvement program that uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques. The partnership will let Castlight’s clients offer Sleepio to their employees.
“Insomnia is a pervasive and chronic mental health condition,” Peter Hames, CEO and cofounder of Big Health, said in an email to MobiHealthNews. “For employers, mental health conditions can have many negative effects on employees, including diminished productivity and safety, and increases in absenteeism and workplace errors. This speaks to the importance and need for clinically-proven, scalable non-drug-based resources to help people fall and stay asleep — and digital medicine fulfills that need.”
Sleepio users can upload sleeping data from fitness devices. The product also creates a personalized program for the user to follow, and integrated CBT with guidance from an online persona.
“In addition to helping sufferers make the changes necessary to overcome insomnia, it also acts as a destigmatized 'trojan horse' to help improve anxiety and depression at population scale,” Hames said.
The company claims that Sleepio is proven to help 76 percent of users with insomnia achieve healthy sleep levels, and help 68 percent of users with anxiety and depression move to recovery.
Hames was inspired to create Sleepio after his personal experience with insomnia. A few years ago, Hames said hedeveloped insomnia “out of the blue,” but remembered from his time studying experimental psychology at Oxford University that there were powerful non-drug ways to beat insomnia, such as CBT. So he began collecting information from self-help books and administered a course of CBT. He said the process was very manual but within in a few weeks he was cured.
He said this experience inspired him to contact Professor Colin Espie, who is now the cofounder of Big Health.
In 2016 Big Health landed $12 million in funding. At the time, Hames said the investment allowed the startup to grow the number of companies they were working with and evolve the product to address a wider range of mental health issues.
Sleepio has been clinically-validated in six randomized control trials and is the subject of 23-peer reviewed papers, Hames said.
“This research has given us the confidence to make outcomes guarantees to our employer clients, which we believe is the essence of true digital medicine,” Hames said in an email. “Although it doesn’t feel like medicine: the whole program is presented by your virtual animated sleep expert, The Prof, and his narcoleptic dog, Pavlov, over web and mobile, creating a fun and engaging experience.”