Were you asleep? Have you slept?
Sleep can have a profound effect on the body--both physically and mentally. Sleep problems such as insomnia are common symptoms of many mental illnesses, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. In the movie Fight Club, for instance, the Narrator suffers from insomnia consequently affecting his life holistically; and because of the chain of events from that, he/Tyler Durden was able to erase the global debt.
So, Daniel Freeman from the University of Oxford and colleagues wanted to find a way to avoid any debilitating effects of such seemingly simple problem and suggested a type of cognitive therapy for it.
Sleepio, an online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program, is a ten-week course aimed to restore the healthy sleeping pattern of insomniacs. Researchers wanted to use this technique and see if it can result to alleviating other problems such as anxiety, negative thoughts, psychosis, and depression.
They gathered a total of 3755 students, from 26 UK universities, who reported to have trouble sleeping. The participants are divided into two groups: 1891 participants to undergo sessions in Sleepio while the remaining 1864 to have the usual practice in treating insomnia.
Before the start of the start of their experiment, the participants filled in questionnaires that measured their sleep patterns as well as their frequency of experiencing hallucinations and paranoia. They then filled in the same questionnaires at weeks three, ten (which is the end of the therapy), and twenty two.
Results showed that Sleepio group had a 30 percent more reduction in hallucinations, 20 percent more reduction in anxiety and depression levels, and 25 percent more reduction in paranoia than the usual practice group. Overall, the Sleepio group slept 50 percent better compared to the latter group. Improvement in sleep is even responsible for up to 60 percent mental health benefits!
According to Derk-Jan Dijk of the University of Surrey in UK, this study offers some proof that better sleep can indeed alleviate psychological problem. This, however, does not directly mean that Sleepio is a better approach in handling sleep disturbances than existing treatments.
Nonetheless, Dijk says that people with mental health issues might be more open to trying sleep CBT as it carries less stigma and is milder than existing treatments.
So, here's to wishing all of us a sleep like the babies'!
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