DIY – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Sleep – Sleepio

As a teenager, I vividly remember my mother pacing the floors when she was unable to sleep. In fact, there she was, up and about, when I returned home late from a date. I never thought much about this at the time, until I reached the point in my own life where staying asleep seemed an impossible feat.

Many of you are familiar with these sleep problems, given that the CDC reports:

  • One third of US adults consistently get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night
  • 50 to 70 million US adults are estimated to have a sleep or wakefulness disorder.

Consider me one of millions. I have struggled with falling asleep and staying asleep for years now. I went through extensive research and experimentation with remedies ranging from various sleep masks to orange glasses to hypnosis for sleep. Even then, I could not seem to solve my tossing and turning or inability to stay asleep.

After so many disappointments, I was recently surprised to find one program helpful: Sleepio, a personalized online program aimed at improving poor sleep.

An evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy program

Sleepio trains users to address the cognitive factors associated with insomnia. In my case, the endless to-do lists and tireless project brainstorming that keep my mind buzzing throughout the night. The goal is to remove these interruptions and establish a pattern in which falling asleep and staying asleep become natural.


Motivated by personalized goal setting

Whether your sleep problems stem from a stressful job, snoring spouse, or sleep-unfriendly health conditions, Sleepio tailors its content to your specific needs. The program begins with setting your own goals based on your own lifestyle and needs; it begins with regaining control.


Modifying habits step-by-step

What follows is a sequence of individualized modules that build upon one another, with quizzes at the end of each session to check your understanding. Sleepio takes a step-by-step approach to correcting problematic thoughts and behaviors. Consider it a 6-week, much-needed course on sleep.


Moving beyond the basics

Having tried my fair share of programs before Sleepio, I already knew the basics of a sleep routine: create a routine, keep the room dark, wear earplugs if needed, invest in eyeshades (trust me, I have 3). There was a reason I was trying this program – because the basics did not work for me.


What I found particularly helpful were the in-depth exercises to help calm the racing mind, as shown below. I have already done mindful-based stress reduction and self-compassion. However, it was helpful to incorporate each of these techniques into my sleep toolkit with the following thought challenges and video guides:


One step back and two steps forward

With its animated appearance and virtual teacher, “The Prof”, I somehow expected the program to be easier. Actually, it took a considerable amount of work and commitment…

My progress report can be seen below:


Despite various bumps along the road, I did significantly improve my sleep efficiency by the end of the program. There is room for improvement via a modernized user interface and greater flexibility (for example, I wanted to redo one module post-traveling but was restricted), but overall I found the Sleepio program helpful and worth the investment.

Lucky for me, and all of us today, new digital self-help tools like Sleepio give each of us the personal empowerment to find new solutions to age-old problems.

 What sleep improvement strategies have worked or not worked for you? Let us know.


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