Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust is giving patients access to an app to help people with sleeping problems.

Sleepio from Big Health uses personalised cognitive behavioural therapy techniques over a six-week course to break the cycle of insomnia and to establish a healthy sleep pattern.

The decision to introduce Sleepio at Lancashire care was made by Mindsmatter, an organisation at the trust to promote increased access to psychological therapies.

Emma Nazurally, service manager for Mindsmatter, told Digital Health News the trust wanted to introduce Sleepio as part of its move from being a primary care focused trust to one that also addressed well-being using new technologies.

“Treating sleep is the ideal starting point,” she said, noting that historically people have been unwilling to seek help for sleeping problems for fear of being labelled with a mental health problem.

“What people don’t understand is that a lack of sleep leads to increases in stress and anxiety,” she said.

This was backed by Sophie Bostock, UK operations lead at Big Health, who told Digital Health News that recent research has demonstrated poor sleep may be a causal factor in anxiety and depression rather than as symptom of mental health.

Nazurally added that the trust was keen to widen its reach and that the use of a tool like Sleepio, which is available online and as an app, would encourage more young people with sleeping disorders to seek help.

Also important to Nazurally was the fact that Sleepio has demonstrated its effectiveness in randomised clinical trials, which have shown on average Sleepio users fall asleep 54% faster and have a 62% reduction in night time awakenings.

This burden of evidence is important, said Bostock, who wanted “more evidence-based digital programmes” on the NHS.

Sleepio was recognised at the EHI Awards 2013 where it won Healthcare IT product innovation.

As well as being available in Lancashire and Manchester it is also available via the NHS Apps Library and as a boxed version from Boots.

Entries for this year's EHI Awards are now open, and have just been extended to this Friday, 15 May. For a full list of categories and information about how to enter, visit the dedicated awards website, where nominations can also be made for the Healthcare IT Champion of the Year decided by the readers of Digital Health Intelligence.