“I’ve had quite bad sleeping problems for a number of years, and not much I have tried in the past has helped - the Sleepio course has really helped me out - I can’t recommend it highly enough. [It’s] a very well thought out and structured, practical programme which has helped me deal with something that has plagued my life for years - which has been pretty tough at times.”

The gold standard approach to insomnia treatment is a talking therapy called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT involves learning cognitive techniques to address the ‘racing mind’, and behavioural strategies to help re-set sleep patterns naturally.

Sleepio uses the latest digital technology to deliver the ingredients of CBT for insomnia in a fully automated, scalable, yet personalised way. Users are guided through a series of weekly interactive sessions by The Prof, a virtual sleep expert, and his narcoleptic dog, Pavlov. Sleepio is clinically proven to help overcome the worry and negative emotions that accompany the experience of being unable to sleep.

Challenge / problem identified

Sleep is essential to good health. Around one in five adults suffer from chronic insomnia: difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking feeling unrefreshed. This has profound negative impacts on quality of life by impairing memory, productivity, self-control and emotional wellbeing, as well as directly increasing the risks of physical ill health.

Sleeping pills are widely used; drugs prescribed to treat poor sleep cost the NHS over £72 million per year. Yet sleeping pills often have harmful side effects and do not address the root causes of insomnia. In person CBT for insomnia is rarely available on the NHS. Sleepio delivers clinical outcomes comparable to in-person therapy.

Actions taken

Sleepio was selected to join the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) in July 2015, as part of the first-year cohort. The NIA is an NHS England initiative delivered in partnership with all 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), and hosted at UCLPartners. As such, NIA Fellow, Sophie Bostock (representing Sleepio) will be supported to scale this innovation across England’s NHS.

Impact / outomes
  • Evidence for Sleepio includes six published randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and over 20 peer-reviewed papers, based on over 4,000 people (www.bighealth.com/outcomes)
  • The cost of Sleepio accounts for less than 37% of the cost of six sessions of in-person CBT (according to NICE Health App Briefing)
  • Routine data shows that Sleepio is exceeding national targets for recovery from common mental health disorders – 68% of anxiety and depression patients using Sleepio moved to recovery, versus a national target for IAPT interventions of 50%
  • Multiple global employers now offering Sleepio as a benefit owing to evidence that Sleepio improves both health and productivity outcomes
  • Sleepio is partnering with Good Thinking, London’s Digital Mental Wellbeing Service, to improve sleep and mental health for NHS patients across London.
Plans for the future

Sleepio was selected to join the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) in July 2015. The NIA will support Sleepio to scale nationally across England’s NHS, with bespoke support available from the NIA for a maximum of three years.

National clinical or policy priorities:

  • Mental health
  • Digital medicine

AHSN priorities:

  • Mental health
  • Digital health
  • NHS Innovation Accelerator
  • STPs.
Start and end dates


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