Can’t get to sleep? Try online therapy. While a glowing screen is a counter-intuitive cure for insomnia, there is evidence that online cognitive behavourial therapy (CBT) can restore normal sleep patterns. In a study published in this month’s Jama Psychiatry, an online CBT programme cured 57% of those who used it, compared with 27% who had standard education about insomnia.
Insomnia affects up to half of all people – with up to 20% having a serious problem with getting off to sleep (or falling asleep again if they wake up). Chronic insomnia can last for years – making people feel sleepy during the day and anxious at night. Standard advice includes promoting “sleep hygiene”: a cool, dark bedroom; going to bed and getting up at the same time every day; and not napping. After that, it’s face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy – but there aren’t enough therapists to go round. This may be why people are still prescribed sleeping tablets that make them feel pleasantly dissociated and are very addictive.
In an editorial accompanying this latest research, Andrew D Krystal from the department of psychiatry at the University of California says it is inevitable that internet CBT will become the first line of treatment for insomnia.
So should you be asking for it already?