In the Spotlight

Sleep Better During the Pandemic

Relaxing isn't easy right now. Here's an app that can help. 

A Veteran struggling to sleepQuality of sleep has suffered some collateral damage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when we stick to our regular schedules, roughly a third of Americans are suffering from acute insomnia right now. Insomnia is when you can’t fall alseep or stay asleep. You may have insomnia for a few nights in a row from time to time. This is called acute insomnia. Or your sleep trouble may be ongoing for a longer period of time. This is called chronic insomnia.

If you're a Veteran struggling with sleep, you're not alone. Fifty percent of Veterans enrolled in VA health care have insomnia. Since social distancing has thrown off our routines, your sleep may also be thrown off. This makes VA’s new mobile app, Insomnia Coach, that much more helpful during times like these.

How to use Insomnia Coach

Insomnia Coach was created for everyone and is easy to use. It can be used as a standalone education and self-care tool, or as an addition to professional mental health care. This app is based on scientific research about how people can change their behaviors and thoughts to improve their sleep.

Insomnia Coach is designed to be used daily for 5 weeks by following a Training Plan. Each morning, simply take a couple of minutes to log your sleep from the night before, and review the personalized feedback that you receive. The tools in the app can be used at any time – when you’re looking for something to help you stay awake, relax before bed, or get back to sleep in the middle of the night. Once you complete the 5-week training plan, you can keep using the app to track your sleep and maintain good sleep habits.

How it can help you

If you have trouble sleeping, Insomnia Coach can help. With this app, you can decide what tools work best for you and develop a personalized sleep plan. The four main features include: 

  • Guided, weekly training plan to help you track and improve sleep

  • Sleep Coach with tips and personal feedback about your sleep

  • Interactive sleep diary to help you keep track of daily changes

  • 17 tools to help you get your sleep back on track

What else can I do?

If you're suffering from insomnia, talk to your health care team at your next appointment or reach out using Secure Messaging (sign-in required). They may ask you to do a sleep diary (which could be completed in Insomnia Coach) or a sleep study to help diagnose your symptoms. You can also use the Insomnia Severity Index (also available in Insomnia Coach), which will ask a few questions about your sleeping patterns. You can share the results at your next appointment.

Is there a version of the app available online?

Insomnia Coach is only available for mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). However, Path to Better Sleep is a free, online course that is also based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I). It has a different format than Insomnia Coach, but many of the same tools and tips are included.


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Created June 16, 2020