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Researchers at the University of Virginia and the National Institute of Health are investigating an online cognitive behavioral therapy course to help people with insomnia sleep better.

Early results suggest that the online course works very well.

The research is based on a couple of facts:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been proven one of the most helpful treatments for people with Insomnia.
  2. CBT delivered online has been proven to work well in the treatment of other disorders

Therefore, it is very likely that CBT for the treatment of insomnia should work well when delivered online.

(In fact, at a National Institute of Health Conference on Chronic Insomnia, experts reached a consensus that CBT was the most effective treatment and that it should be more widely used.) 1

Using CBT Online to Beat Insomnia

While people with insomnia often turn to medications for help, the chronic use of sleep medications has some negative consequences and these medications may not always provide effective sleep. CBT is considered a very effective alternative to medications for people with chronic insomnia.

To test CBT for insomnia delivered online, University of Virginia researchers have developed an online course, which can be delivered via the internet. The course is called SHUTi.

In the University of Virginia program, participants can log on at their leisure for to an online CBT course that takes about 6 weeks of active participation to complete.

During the course, participants are taught/learn:

  • More about insomnia and other sleep problems
  • How to diagnose their own sleeping problems
  • To make treatment goals that fit their situation
  • To make lifestyle changes and to integrate these changes into daily life

Initial research results show that between 70% and 80% of people who participate in the online CBT insomnia course show sleeping improvements and that these sleeping improvements endure beyond 6 months post treatment. Specific results include:

  • A generally reported reduction in the Insomnia Severity Index
  • Improvements (reductions) in waking after sleep
  • Better sleep efficiency
  • Fewer awakenings 2

Talk to Your Doctor

Although the University of Virginia online CBT program for insomnia is not yet open to the general public (research continues) the results indicate that in-person sleep therapy is not necessarily needed and that cheaper and less intrusive computer based CBT programs for insomnia can help a lot.

Ask your doctor if you might be a suitable candidate for an online insomnia program, and for a possible reference into an existing or emerging CBT course.

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Page last updated Jun 15, 2011

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