Big Health helps employees get more shut eye with Sleepio, a digital sleep improvement program

It’s no secret that humans need sleep to function, and that we need a lot of sleep to function well. According to the CDC, adults need 7 or more hours per sleep each night for the best health and well-being. Unfortunately, a whopping 35% of all adults in the U.S. are getting less than this each night, putting them at risk for sleep deprivation.

Enter Big Health, a company committed to improving mental health with proven behavioral medicine backed by clinical evidence. Big Health works with employers and health plans to deliver measurable outcomes at population scales, which reduces costs and increases productivity.

Big Health’s flagship product, Sleepio, was designed to help employees get improve their mental health by using the destigmatized topic of sleep – a topic that almost everyone is comfortable engaging with. Sleepio has helped 76% of enrolled patients achieve healthy sleep. In the world’s first placebo-controlled clinical trial for a digital sleep intervention, Sleepio was shown to be significantly more effective than both placebo and treatment as usual.In the largest ever randomized controlled trial of a psychological intervention for a mental health problem, Sleepio was tested by independent investigators and shown to not only improve sleep but also depression, anxiety, and overall psychological wellbeing.

We sat down with Dickon Waterfield, Chief Commercial Officer at Big Health, to learn more about the company’s mission and how it’s revolutionizing our perspective on sleep.

Tell us about Big Health.

Big Health is a digital medicine company, which means we create highly personalized behavioral medicine programs specifically for medicine health. Our programs all need to be as scalable as drugs and as effective as in-person therapy. Everything we build needs to be backed by gold standard clinical evidence peer-reviewed in the scientific literature.

Our mission is to help millions improve mental health, and we focus on people who have a clinical diagnosis back to where they are no longer burdened by anxiety and depression.

Where does Sleepio fit in?

We built Sleepio to help people battle insomnia. Sleepio is a digital sleep improvement program based on cognitive behavioral therapy. We want to help people improve their sleep and in turn help improve broader mental health. Our goal with Sleepio is to help people improve the number of hours that they sleep. But the key objective is that when you’re in bed, you’re actually sleeping, rather than frustrated about how you’re not sleeping. When it comes to working with employers, we’re here to help your whole population sleep better, feel happier, and worry less.

What techniques does Sleepio use to improve sleep?

Our key objective is to help people increase their sleep time. When you’re in bed, you need to be sleeping. We look at the total time you’re asleep, and the total time you’re in bed, to calculate sleep efficiency. That’s a bit of a technical term, but the ultimate goal is to reduce the time you lay awake in bed.

We teach people to sleep better using cognitive and behavioral techniques that are backed by clinical evidence. For example, rather than enlisting a drug that will put you to sleep, we encourage people to use techniques that can block the thoughts that are keeping them awake at night. For example, someone might focus on repeating the word “the” over and over again. We also use a behavioral technique that encourages people to take time to relax and wind down before sleeping, such as taking time to read a book.

Can you share some of the results that Sleepio has seen?

We want to be held to the same standards as the drug companies are, which means everything we build needs to be backed by clinical evidence that’s peer-reviewed. We now have more than 25 published papers and 6 randomized control trials to demonstrate that our programs work.

Sleepio has helped 76% of enrolled patients achieve healthy sleep. In the world’s first placebo-controlled clinical trial for a digital sleep intervention, Sleepio was shown to be significantly more effective than both placebo and treatment as usual. In a clinical audit study, 68% of NHS patients with mild to moderate depression and anxiety moved to recovery with the help of Sleepio.

What’s it like to be part of Castlight’s ecosystem?

Our customers have been really excited by what we’re offering, and have been impressed by the level of engagement they’ve seen. Sleep is relevant to everyone, so we typically get about 30% of the population enrolled in Sleepio once it’s rolled out. But even more exciting is the clinical results we see. We’ve demonstrated that we can not only help companies get their employees sleeping better, but also reduce anxiety and depression in their populations.