NICE recommend digital self-help programme Sleepio to treat insomnia

Digital self-help programme Sleepio has been recommended to treat insomnia by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

The tool provides tailored digital cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), using tech such as AI to tailor its support through the app.

A six-week self-help programme is used to help patients identify the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that contribute to insomnia symptoms, with behavioural interventions aiming to promote a healthy sleep routine and cognitive interventions seeking to improve the way the individual thinks about sleep.

The programme includes a sleep test, weekly interactive CBT-I sessions and a sleep diary, with electronic resources and an online community available for support.

Sleepio was tested through 12 randomised controlled trials, with clinical evidence indicating the app is effective at reducing insomnia.

“Our guidance on Sleepio provides GPs and their patients with evidence-based recommendations on a digital treatment option for insomnia,” said Jeanette Kusel, Acting Director for MedTech and Digital at NICE. “Our rigorous, transparent and evidence-based analysis has found that Sleepio is cost saving for the NHS in primary care compared with sleeping pills and sleep hygeine. It will also reduce people with insomnia’s reliance on dependence forming drugs such as zolpidem and zopiclone.

“This is a good example of where a digital health technology can help the NHS. The evidence has shown using Sleepio reduces the number of GP appointments people with insomnia need and will also cut the number of prescriptions for sleeping pills delivered by pharmacists.”

The independent NICE committee has recommended that a medical assessment should be completed before Sleepio is referred to people who are pregnant or have comorbidities, and have also recommended further research into how Sleepio performs in comparison to face-to-face CBT-I.

In March 2022, HTN welcomed Heather Cook, the Interim UK Director of Big Health, and Dr Masood Nazir, a GP in Birmingham and the Director of Primary Care for the NHS Transformation Directorate, for a discussion focusing on digital treatment for mental health needs. You can watch the session back here.