Insomnia Apps: A replacement for sleeping pills?


For those of us suffering from insomnia there’s no denying it can be a real pain! For some it means wakening up a number of times throughout the night, while others are unable to get back to sleep after only a few hours rest. In my case it means drifting off into a peaceful slumber before inevitably waking just minutes later with a jolt, looking like Frankenstein’s monster and wondering if someone just hit me up the face with a bolt of lightning!

The latest NHS approved sleep app is Sleepstation. It’s one of three listed on the NHS Choices Health Apps website, the others are Sleepio and Sleep Diary. [I keyed ‘sleep’ into the search box to get these results – when I tried typing in ‘insomnia’ only Sleepstation showed!] Sleepstation seems to work in a similar way to Sleepio, in that it uses a combination of sleep logging and tailored Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Neither of these apps are free, though as fellow Editor Charles pointed out, Sleepio has been prescribed by GP’s in England for some time through the NHS. Sleep Diary which is free to download, lets you log sleep patterns but with no CBT included.

It’s kind of ironic that the same technology that may help us sleep better is the same one that prevents us getting quality shut-eye (as the “glow” from electronics delays the release of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin). Nevertheless I wouldn’t rule these sleep apps out, particularly those with CBT, because most cases of insomnia result from stress and the evidence for the effectiveness of CBT apps in this area looks promising. Also, anything that prevents us from resorting to pills as a panacea for our ills gets my vote.

Like most things in life, to get the most out of these apps you’ll have to be willing to put in real effort, to change thinking patterns and make whatever lifestyle changes are necessary. And unfortunately there’s no app to get around that! Sleepstation press release



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