UVA researcher helps create online insomnia treatment

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- A University of Virginia researcher has helped create an online program that may end sleepless night for insomnia sufferers.

The program is aptly named Sleep Healthy Using the Internet, or SHUTi, and its goal is to bring the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy to insomnia sufferers who might not have access to trained practitioners.

"The problem is there's only a handful of people who can actually deliver this," said researcher Lee Ritterband, a psychologist and professor at the UVA School of Medicine. "We wanted to operationalize what we do as clinicians, automate that into a web-based system, and then provide that to end users so they can get the treatment from wherever they've got a computer or the internet."

Ritterband said 70 percent of the more than 300 participants in the study experienced significant improvement in their sleep. And while people require different amounts of sleep, Ritterband said anyone who is struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep on a regular basis could benefit from the six-week program.

The program has participants keep a daily sleep log and answer questionnaires with a goal of helping them address habits that may be impacting sleep and establish a regular sleep routine.

The program costs $135, and while it's not yet covered by insurance, Ritterband said people with health savings account may be able to use that to pay for it.

Click on the link in the Related Links box to go to the SHUTi site.

Correction: The name of Professor Lee Ritterband was misspelled in the original version of this article.

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