According to a new study by researchers at the Virginia University, online therapy done with machines proved beneficial for chronic insomniacs. The respondents reported improvement in their sleep after the therapy within a few weeks and were sleeping normally a year later.
In this research, doctors recruited more than 300 people aged between 21 and 65 over the internet. Among these, half of them were selected randomly for receiving digital placebo – advice and education on treating insomnia, while the other half were treated with SHUTi, a program based on cognitive behavior therapy.
The Virginia University, as well as certain researchers, have the stake in this online therapy product worth US$135 for four months of access. And these researchers are not linked to the company in accessing or analyzing the data and have not even participated in this analysis.
The researchers used some standardized questionnaires for tracking the participants, determining their quality of sleep for each month. A year later, more than 50% of people suffering from chronic insomnia who used an online therapy program done by machines were sleeping normally, as compare to 20% of the people who only received advice and education.
In the market, SHUTi is not the only product for digital insomnia therapy — there are other products, notably Sleepio which costs around US$300 with one year access. This product is manufactured by a London-based company, which includes cognitive therapy. This therapy was also tested through a randomized study which delivers good results.
Both these products used for digital insomnia therapy incorporate the cognitive behavior techniques, a successful approach used by therapists for several years. One such technique is sleep restriction, in which regularly a “sleep window” is set by the person and tries sticking to it. Another technique is stimulus control, an attempt for breaking the association among lying in bed and certain activities like eating, streaming video.
Moreover, the SHUTi product prompts people daily log in and record some detail of each night’s sleep; based on those entries weekly sessions are taken, in which one out of 10 persons has diagnosable insomnia.
Summary: An automated online therapy, SHUTi to help alleviate insomnia