Insomnia affects one in ten adults. Sleepio is a digital programme scientifically proven to help overcome poor sleep, based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and backed by gold standard research evidence and a specific evidence summary from NICE.
In the six-week programme users learn cognitive techniques to help tackle the so-called ‘racing mind’ – the state in which people find themselves staring at the ceiling late at night, becoming overwhelmed by the thoughts and anxieties circling them as they desperately try to sleep – and behavioural strategies to help reset sleeping patterns naturally, without relying on sleeping pills or other drugs. The evidence indicates that better sleep leads to improved quality of life – in the waking hours as well as during the night.
Innovate UK is funding a project providing free direct access to Sleepio to all 2.7 million adults living in the Thames Valley (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire) from October 2018 until autumn 2019. This is the first large-scale NHS rollout of direct access digital medicine. This means people can access the programme without needing a GP referral or prescription.
This initiative is being led by th e Oxford Academic Health Science Network (Oxford AHSN) in partnership with Big Health (the company behind Sleepio), major employers, GP surgeries and other primary care professionals. It is supported by NHS England and the NHS Innovation Accelerator.
Sarah Longfield, former UK Project Manager, Big Health, said: “Big Health’s partnership with Oxford AHSN has been invaluable. The AHSN’s support and reputation has enabled us to build strong relationships with commissioners, partners and local stakeholders who otherwise may have been reluctant to engage with a private organisation.
“The team has been incredibly proactive in identifying synergies with other NHS initiatives and opportunities for promotion both regionally and nationally. Their expertise in real world evaluation has been critical in shaping our approach to economic analysis.”
A health economic evaluation will be conducted at the end of the year-long trial focusing on how the NHS can expand the provision of digital medicines like Sleepio at scale.
The Oxford AHSN Sleepio project seeks to engage with large local employers, promoting Sleepio to their workforces. Nine GP surgeries in Buckinghamshire (with a combined total of 120,000 registered patients) have been recruited to the project to offer Sleepio directly to patients who would otherwise be offered medication only.
A dedicated free weblink for Thames Valley residents (www.sleepio.com/nhs) was launched on 10 October 2018 (World Mental Health Day). By the end of May 2019, more than 7,500 people in the Thames Valley had engaged with Sleepio. Of those signing up, about a third had heard about Sleepio through their employer, others via their GP, psychological therapies service or the Live Well Stay Well initiative in Bucks.