Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the recommended first-line treatment for insomnia. However, guideline care is very seldom available and most patients receive no treatment, or less effective second-line pharmacotherapy or sleep hygiene, neither of which are evidence-based for chronic insomnia. The primary challenge for CBT has been supply. There are not enough therapists to meet the enormous demand. We must accelerate clinician training, but this approach can never be sufficient, even with abbreviated, efficient therapies. Fortunately, however, the treatment landscape has also changed dramatically. Fully-automated digital CBT (dCBT) has emerged as a safe, effective, and scalable treatment delivery format. dCBT is software only, so it can be disseminated as readily and widely as sleep medication. Moreover, dCBT can be integrated into services. Just as medications can be delivered through health professionals and health systems, approved dCBT programmes can be the same. However, an ecosystem of psychologically-based care should not necessitate a medical prescription model. Our proposed stepped care framework, comprises both population health and clinical health service initiatives, enabling universal access to guideline care for insomnia. The diverse ways in which CBT may be delivered (in-person, face-to-face, using telehealth, group therapy, digitally) can operate congruently and efficiently to optimise treatment for people at all levels of complexity and need. With safe and clinically effective dCBT products now set to become established as treatments, clearly differentiated from wellness apps, there is potential to rapidly transform insomnia services and, for the first time, to deliver clinical guideline care at international scale.
J Sleep Res
CBT, dissemination, insomnia, sleep, stepped care, therapeutics