A new study involved 44 people with an average age of 45 years. They had struggled with insomnia for an average of more than 10 years; most of the participants were women.
Half of the group was put on a wait list as a control; the other half completed a nine-week, online CBT program called “Sleep Healthy Using the Internet” – or SHUTi.
Results show that insomnia severity improved significantly for the Internet group; there was only a slight improvement for the control group. Members of the treatment group spent less time awake during the night. Their sleep also was more efficient; a higher percentage of their total time in bed was spent sleeping.
The online treatment also had a long-lasting effect; members of the Internet group were still sleeping better at a six-month follow-up.
SHUTi was developed at the University of Virginia Health System. The lead author of the new study was SHUTi creator Lee Ritterband, PhD. He also is the co-founder of the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions.
The AP reports that SHUTi is highly interactive; it uses stories, quizzes and games to teach healthy sleep habits. It also gives personalized advice based on a completed sleep diary.
The content is divided into core units that focus on specific methods for improving sleep. These include sleep restriction, stimulus control, sleep hygiene, cognitive restructuring and relapse prevention.
These methods are based on traditional, face-to-face CBT. The AASM recommends CBT as an effective treatment for chronic insomnia in adults.
In June the Sleep Education Blog reported on a study of another online CBT program. The five-week program helped most people in the treatment group; 81 percent reported at least mild improvement in their sleep.
Contact an AASM-accredited sleep center near you for help with insomnia.