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Publication Detail
Exploring the impact of a sleep app on sleep quality in a general population sample: a randomised controlled pilot trial (Preprint)

Sufficient sleep is crucial for good health but a third of adults in Western countries have impaired sleep quality and widely accessible sleep-interventions are limited. One solution is distribution of sleep aids through smartphone applications but empirical studies are limited to small pilot trials in distinct populations (e.g. soldiers) or individuals with clinical sleep disorders so general population data are required. Furthermore, recent research shows sleep app users desire a personalised approach, offering an individually tailored choice of techniques. One such aid is ‘Peak Sleep’; a smartphone application based on scientifically validated principles for improving sleep quality, such as mindfulness meditation and cognitive behavioural therapy.


To test the impact of the smartphone app ‘Peak Sleep’ on sleep and collect user experience data to allow for future app development.


The design was a two-arm pilot randomised control trial. Participants were general population adults who were self-reported poor sleepers and there was remote participation throughout the United Kingdom. Participants were individually randomised to receive the intervention (3 months of app use) versus control. Sleep quality was assessed using the Insomnia Severity Index and Consensus Sleep Diary at 0, 1, 2 and 3 month follow-ups. Participant engagement with the app was assessed using the Digital Behaviour Change Intervention Engagement Scale as well as through qualitative telephone interviews on a subsample.


101 participants were enrolled and 21 were interviewed. Sleep improved in both groups over time, with ISI scores of the intervention group improving by a mean of 2.5 and control by 1.6, but there was no significant effect of group for any sleep quality measures (p>0.05), indicating Peak Sleep had no impact on sleep quality. App users’ engagement was divided, with qualitative interviews supporting this view of a polarised sample who really liked or disliked the app.


Though no impact on sleep quality as a result of the app was found, COVID-19 hit in the middle of the trial which may have impacted sleep more than an app. Important optimisation data were collected and the app’s tailored nature was well-received. Therefore, future research could evaluate the app’s efficacy after integration of suggested improvements and without the confounding influence of COVID-19.


ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04487483

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