Sleepio study suggests insomnia treatment could also improve depressive symptoms

“Insomnia may, therefore, be an important therapeutic target to assist management of depressive symptoms,” researchers said.
By Mallory Hackett
10:52 am
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The use of cognitive-behavioral therapy interventions, such as Big Health’s Sleepio program, has been found to improve both sleep and mental health in individuals with insomnia and clinically significant depressive symptoms, according to new research published in the Journal of Sleep Research.
 
Sleepio is a digital sleep-improvement program that offers personalized treatment base on a user’s challenges and goals.
 
Although the study was conducted at the University of Oxford, some of the researchers have financial ties to Big Health, and parts of the investigation were funded by Big Health. 
 
TOPLINE DATA
 
Researchers found that addressing sleep problems in individuals who also have depressive symptoms could increase the resolution of depressive symptoms by up to three times. 
 
The improvements in sleep, as a result of using Sleepio, were responsible for 87% of the improvements in depressive symptoms, according to the researchers. 
 
At the post-intervention mark of eight to 10 weeks, the use of Sleepio was found to improve insomnia by 76% and depressive symptoms by 48% compared to the control group. The researchers saw these effects maintained at 22 to 24 weeks after intervention.
 
“Our results suggest that effects of digital cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia extend to depressive symptoms in those with clinically significant depressive symptomatology,” the study says. “Insomnia may, therefore, be an important therapeutic target to assist management of depressive symptoms.”
 
HOW IT WAS DONE
 
The study included 3,352 participants as a sub-analysis of data collected from two randomized control trials measuring the effectiveness of Sleepio. 
 
All the participants met the criteria for probable insomnia disorder and had clinically significant depressive symptoms. Ages ranged from 18 to 89 years, with a median age of about 30 years. Across the control and the trial sample, the participants were predominantly female, with 76% in both groups.
 
In both the control and trial groups, all participants had moderate-to-severe depressive symptoms at the start of the intervention.
 
THE LARGER TREND
 
The use of cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common treatment for insomnia. It can help people struggling with insomnia identify and replace the thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. 
 
Pear Therapeutics recently released its own digital cognitive behavioral therapy program for insomnia, called Somryst. It is intended to treat the symptoms of patients aged 22 years or older with chronic insomnia and is only available by prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.
 
Big Health, the maker of Sleepio, closed a $39 million Series B funding round in June. The company said that the raise will support new product development, as well as the growth of its distribution channels and commercialization efforts.
 
Other interventions targeted to improved sleep include OmniPEMF’s NeoRhythm headband. The headband uses pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) technology to help wearers create the desired mental state for sleep, relaxation, focus, pain relief, meditation or energy. 
 
ON THE RECORD
 
“Our study suggests that evidence-based digital therapeutics for sleep could be a powerful way to help millions of people not just sleep better, but also improve their depressive symptoms,” said Dr. Alasdair Henry, the lead researcher and research manager at Big Health, in a statement “In clinical studies, Sleepio has repeatedly achieved statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in sleep and mental health. Our latest results indicate that Sleepio can be an effective way to help those experiencing insomnia and clinically significant depressive symptoms achieve better outcomes over the long term through evidence-based cognitive and behavioral techniques.”
 
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