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OKI and Kyoto University Collaborate to Improve Sleep via a Smartphone App that utilizes behavior change technologies


Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd. (OKI), Kyoto University, and Healthtech Laboratory, Inc. have jointly developed the "Sleep Prompt Application (SPA)," a smartphone app that applies cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT-I) for insomnia, and on July 26 announced that Kyoto University had demonstrated the app's effectiveness in improving sleep in a "clinical trial for working-age people with sleep problems" that was conducted from November 2020 to March 2021. The results of this joint research were published in the international academic journal JMIR (Journal of Medical Internet Research) on July 25.

Outline of Sleep Prompt Application

Insomnia has become a critical social issue because it causes a variety of human and socioeconomic losses. Japanese guidelines for treating insomnia indicate that CBT-I is effective in treating insomnia without relying on drugs, but there are limited opportunities to provide CBT-I because of a lack of specialists.

Although smartphone apps and other devices that implement some CBT-I techniques have recently been developed because of this reason, their effectiveness in clinical trials for mild insomnia have not been fully investigated.

OKI, together with Kyoto University and Healthtech Laboratory, has jointly developed "SPA," a CBT-I based smartphone app that uses OKI's behavior-change technologies to send short messages called prompts that induce sleep improvement behavior according to the individual's condition and timing. This involved taking the "messaging rule" from Kyoto University's knowledge of sleep medicine and implementing it into the "behavior change engine" that was originally developed by OKI based on their behavior change technology. Furthermore, the smartphone app is configured to work in conjunction with "Kenko-Nikki (Health Diary)," a personal health record (PHR)-related app operated by Healthtech Laboratory.

A trial using this application was conducted by Kyoto University, in which 116 workers who were aware of their sleep problems were subjected to a parallel-group, randomized controlled trial with a four-week intervention period. This parallel-group, randomized, controlled trial tested the effects of the intervention by randomly dividing the participants into two or more groups, with the randomization providing a well-balanced grouping of participants and allowing for fair comparisons of the intervention's effects.

As a result, SPA's effectiveness was demonstrated, both in workers who were aware of their sleep problems and in workers with insomnia, by confirming a significant improvement in the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), a scale that indicates the severity of an individual's insomnia. The dropout rate amongst the SPA users was 3.2%.

OKI will utilize the results of this joint research to develop solutions for improving sleep and for preventing lifestyle-related diseases. In addition to improving sleep, behavior change technology can contribute to a wide range of fields, such as improving lifestyle habits towards decarbonization and supporting corporate health management by improving the behaviors of office workings and. As such, OKI will develop the technology as one that supports individuals in improving their activities to address a variety of social issues.

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd.( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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