Sleepio Research

Trial information

Espie CA, Kyle SD, Williams C, Ong JC, Douglas NJ, Hames P, Brown JSL. A randomized, placebo-controlled, trial of online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for chronic Insomnia Disorder delivered via an automated media-rich web application.

Clinical Trial Registration: ISRCTN - 44615689


Thank you for your interest in our clinical trial.

We hope that this site will help you to understand the research methods that we used, and to get a sense of what the participant assessment and treatment experience was like.

Please note that all material is © Sleepio Limited 2010.

Recruitment and enrolment procedures

Potential participants were identified from those having voluntarily completed the Great British Sleep Survey (GBSS).

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  • GBSS Front Page
    The Great British Sleep Survey homepage at the point of recruitment.

The GBSS covered personal demographics, sleep pattern and sleep quality, daytime functioning, screening for other sleep disorders, and physical and mental health status. Analysis permitted identification of possible insomnia disorder against DSM-5 criteria. Here is a sample page.

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  • GBSS Question Page

Respondents meeting preliminary insomnia criteria, screening negative for other sleep disorders, and of at least average physical/ mental health were invited to participate. A study information sheet was provided in association with the consent procedure illustrated here.

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  • Consent Form
    The online participant consent form.

A further screening process included a physical health checker and the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. Eligible, consenting participants were then randomized to receive either Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Imagery Relief Therapy (IRT: placebo) or Treatment as Usual (TAU: a wait-list condition).

Intervention procedures

Here we invite you to review what CBT and IRT participants received by way of intervention. You will be able to see how each treatment was introduced and explained, how participant commitment was obtained, and examples of treatment components. You will also be able to take a tour of online 'tools' that were available to participants to help them put the course techniques into practice.

When logging on for the first time, both CBT and IRT participants were able to start the first of their weekly sessions. This included a rationale of their sleep problem in the terms of their intervention (CBT or IRT), and an explanation of how the upcoming course would address it. These videos show this process for a CBT participant and an IRT participant.

  • How a CBT participant was introduced to the course.
  • How an IRT participant was introduced to the course.

Participants in both groups were asked to make a commitment to trying to improve their sleep. Aside from the therapeutic benefit, this also allowed an implicit assessment of the comparative credibility of both interventions. These videos show the procedure for both the CBT and the IRT groups.

  • Commitment procedure for CBT group.
  • Commitment procedure for IRT group.

Using information from prior assessments, both the CBT and IRT programs helped the participant to set their own goals for their treatment.

  • Personal goal-setting in both groups

As an example of a treatment procedure from the CBT course, here is an extract covering thought blocking.

  • Thought blocking session extract from the CBT course.

This is an example from the IRT course on what was explained as 'desensitization'.

  • 'Desensitization' session extract from the IRT course

Finally, the fully automated system provided participants with a wide range of helpful online tools. CBT and IRT participants could review their goals and sleep efficiency status, complete their sleep diaries online, examine their 'to do' list, download audio and written materials, repeat any of the treatment sessions by replaying animated videos, study their statistics and read expert 'Wikipedia style' articles. In addition, CBT participants had access to an online community of participants with moderated expert input. These videos give you a short tour around the full set of online tools in each of the treatment groups (please note that there is no sound).

  • The full set of CBT online tools.
  • The full set of IRT online tools.

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