Sleep trial helps combat Covid-19 insomnia

Worried about Covid-19 & lockdowns so much you’re having trouble sleeping at night? Sleep researchers at Flinders University are testing the benefits of a wearable ring which they think can help re-train users to fall asleep faster.

THIM uses vibrations to wake the wearer up at intervals throughout the night, in a process that researchers say could lead to better sleep and less anxiety for millions of Australians with insomnia.

The pilot trial is seeking Australians aged 18 to 64 years old who are willing to participate in a study testing the efficacy of the sleep re-training device throughout an entire night’s sleep, helping to develop an effective device-administered treatment for insomnia.

Dr Hannah Scott, Post- Doctoral Research Associate at the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, says getting off to sleep is likely to become a chronic problem for many, particularly with Covid-19 causing increased anxiety as Australian cities experience extended lockdowns.

“We’re looking for adults who struggle to fall asleep but are otherwise healthy. The trial involves using the THIM device to administer Intensive Sleep Retraining for just 4 hours on one night to see whether this leads to sustained improvements in sleep and overall wellbeing.”

“The study involves falling asleep repeatedly, which we think will retrain people to fall asleep more quickly and relieve the insomnia after just one session.”

Recent studies on the accuracy of THIM published by Dr Scott in Nature Science Of Sleep and the Journal Of Clinical Sleep Medicine have outlined the device is capable of monitoring participant’s sleep and wake overnight in good and poor sleepers. The upcoming research is set to examine the device’s ability to implement Intensive Sleep Retraining in the home: a technique known to effectively treat insomnia.

“Covid-19 and the general stress of modern life will no doubt be impacting the Australian population so it’s important we look at the potential benefits of home-based treatments, such as THIM, to improve people’s sleep and mental wellbeing,” says Dr Scott.

“This pilot trial will further enhance our understanding about the positive impact of Intensive Sleep Retraining and the overall effectiveness of device-based sleep treatments to ensure Australians are getting a better night’s sleep.”

South Australians seeking to participate can contact Dr Hannah Scott at sleep@flinders.edu.au

Other sleep studies to join can be found on the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health website. Many of the research projects are funded by Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants.

The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health and Flinders University are part of a national Federal Government funded Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Alertness, Safety and Productivity. The CRC aims to develop a range of innovative strategies to reduce fatigue and sleepiness and related injuries, enhance workplace performance and improve sleep-related health and quality of life.

Institute researchers also partner with clinicians from the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network (SALHN), mainly at the Flinders Medical Centre, and are members of the National Centre for Sleep Health Services Research.

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College of Medicine and Public Health

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