A new artificially intelligent sleep application has been developed that can replace sleeping pills for people with insomnia.
Sleepio uses a WHO algorithm to provide individuals with appropriate cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I).
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says it will save the NHS money as well as reduce the prescribing of drugs such as zolpidem and zopiclone, which can cause dependence.
Its economic analysis found that healthcare costs were lower after a year of using Sleepio, mainly due to fewer doctor appointments and prescription sleeping pills.
The app offers a six-week digital self-help program that involves sleep testing, weekly interactive CBT-I sessions, and logging of sleep patterns.
The sessions focus on identifying the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to the symptoms of insomnia. Cognitive interventions aim to improve the way a person thinks about sleep, and behavioral interventions aim to promote healthy sleep habits.
Nice predicts up to 800,000 people could benefit from using Sleepio in the UK.
Reduce use of habit-forming drugs
The program is designed to be completed in six weeks, but people have full access to the program for 12 months from signing up.
This allows people to complete sessions at their own pace and revisit sessions. Participants can also access e-library articles, online tools, and join the Sleepio online user community for support.
A daily sleep diary helps users track their progress, and the program tailors individualized advice. Users can manually fill in the log, or data can be automatically uploaded from a compatible wearable device, like an Apple watch or a Fitbit.
Clinical evidence presented to Nice’s medical technology advisory committee from 12 randomized controlled trials shows that Sleepio is more effective at reducing insomnia than sleep hygiene and sleeping pills.
Jeanette Kusel, acting director of MedTech and digital at Nice, said that so far patients have been given sleeping pills and taught about sleep hygiene.
She said “rigorous, transparent and evidence-based analysis” has shown Sleepio has saved the NHS money and reduced reliance on dependency-forming drugs sometimes used to treat it. This situation.
“This is a prime example of where digital health technology can help the NHS.
“Evidence has shown that using Sleepio reduces the number of GP appointments for people with insomnia and will also cut down on the number of prescriptions for sleeping pills provided by pharmacists.”
Sleepio costs £45 (excluding VAT) per person.
The Independent Commission of Nice has recommended that medical evaluation be carried out prior to transfer to Sleepio during pregnancy and in people with multiple medical conditions.
It has also suggested more research or data collection to show how effective Sleepio is compared to direct CBT-I.