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Web-Based Cognitive Therapy Program Effective for Insomnia

Interactive program aims to build better sleep habits, researchers say

couple in bed

THURSDAY, Dec. 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A web-based interactive program can help chronically sleepless individuals get the sleep they need without taking medication or spending time in therapy, according to research published online Nov. 30 in JAMA Psychiatry.

The six-week program uses cognitive behavior therapy techniques to help reset sleep patterns, the researchers said. Three hundred three adults were randomly assigned to either the six-week cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia program (Sleep Healthy Using the Internet [SHUTi]) or online patient education about improving sleep. Prior to the study, all of the participants regularly needed more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night, or spent more than 30 minutes of time awake during the night after initially falling asleep. Program effects were assessed from nine weeks to one year after participation.

After one year, seven out of 10 SHUTi participants (69.7 percent) still showed improvement in their sleep patterns, and 56.6 percent had no insomnia, the researchers found.

People who participated in the program "experienced significant and clinically meaningful improvements in their sleep, compared to those who were given online patient education," lead researcher Lee Ritterband, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville, told HealthDay. Moreover, the results are "similar to outcomes reported in trials that included face-to-face cognitive behavior therapy."

Ritterband is a partner in BeHealth Solutions, the company that developed and runs SHUTi.

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