lifestyle, mind-body, patient stories

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. Despite extensive research and experimentation with remedies ranging from various sleep masks to orange glasses to private sessions in hypnosis for sleep, 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.

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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.

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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. Old habits are hard to break, but Sleepio takes a step-by-step approach to correcting problematic thoughts and behaviors – consider it a 6-week, much-needed course on sleep.

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Moving beyond the basics

Having tried my fair share of programs before Sleepio, I already knew the basics of sleep hygiene: 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.

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

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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:

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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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