February 12, 2006 Approximately 30 million Americans suffer from chronic insomnia. Many of these people do not seek help for their sleep problems, while others rely on medications to help them sleep. Unfortunately, most of these approaches are not long-term solutions. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a State-of-the-Science statement concluding that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective long-term treatments for chronic insomnia. In the past, insomnia sufferers have not had the option of behavioral therapy in the comfort of their homes. A new product called SleepKey is designed to bridge this gap by delivering CBT as a self-help modality.
SleepKey is a small handheld computer that works by first learning the user's unique sleep pattern and then applying behavioral principles to modify and consolidate sleep behavior. SleepKey utilizes active sleep sampling to determine the user's sleep pattern.
The SleepKey system produces a low tone or vibration periodically throughout the night, and determines whether the user is asleep based on a response to these prompts. After assessing the user's sleep pattern for 7 days, SleepKey schedules a bedtime each night based on a sleep restriction algorithm used by sleep clinicians. As the percentage of time asleep improves, the time to bed is gradually adjusted until the user is getting a full night's sleep. By restricting the time in bed and prompting the user to get out of bed if not asleep after a period of time, SleepKey helps users break the associations of the bed being a place of restlessness rather than a place for sleeping.
SleepKey is scientifically based and its development was funded in part with grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. SleepKey has been shown in two studies to quickly improve several measures of sleep quality. The development of SleepKey was led by Dr. William T. Riley, Director of Research of PICS in consultation with leading authorities on the behavioral treatment of insomnia including Dr. Charles Morin of Universite Laval and Dr. Jack Edinger of Duke University.