“Several years ago I developed Insomnia. It was one of the worst experiences of my life that rapidly undermined so many elements of my daytime functioning. Something as simple as sleeping — if I can’t do that, how can I do anything else?” 

Something as simple as sleeping — if I can’t do that, how can I do anything else?

This story belongs to Peter Hames, Big Health’s Co-founder and CEO. He shared it in a session during the DTx West 2021 conference, explaining how his own experience with poor sleep led him to be where he is today.

In the session, titled “Patient-First Perspective on Digital Therapeutics,” Hames explained that when he sought help from a doctor, he was told Ambien was his only option. But because he studied experimental psychology in college, Hames felt that he would have better results with cognitive and behavioral techniques than he would with prescription drugs. So he found a book on the subject and went on to help himself. Later, he sought out the author of that very book, Professor Colin Espie — a world leading behavioral sleep scientist at Oxford — and together they built Big Health.

As a core part of the “Patient-First” panel, Hames spoke with two individuals who benefited greatly from Big Health’s digital therapeutics, Sleepio for poor sleep, and Daylight for worry and anxiety.

Sleepio provides relief from prolonged poor sleep 

When Tim had a similar experience with poor sleep, his path to getting help was a bit easier. “It all started with an email.” Tim’s company offers Sleepio as a benefit, and when he received an internal email about it, he was intrigued. “I hadn’t been sleeping well for a long time,” explained Tim, who dealt with “groggy days” and “perpetual jet lag” for about a decade. “It created a level of angst that crept in over time.” But he admitted that he “just learned to live with it.”

I hadn’t been sleeping well for a long time.

Tim shared how Sleepio gave him quick relief due to its structured sessions based on cognitive and behavioral techniques. “The program made a commitment: If you follow this, you will get results” he said. “And I did. It worked as advertised.” Tim particularly liked the animated professor and his dog leading him through the program. “It was so engaging” — so much so that his daughter wanted to watch along with him. “I looked forward to my check-in with the professor at the end of the week.” But he also stressed that this was a serious program based on science. “It wasn’t fluff.”

Tim found Sleepio to be helpful immediately. “Right off the bat, it gave me perspective that this is not the end of the world.” Simply tracking his sleep allowed him to better understand what caused poor sleep, the impact it had on his life, and ultimately how to control it. “I can’t imagine what life would be like without this,” he marveled. “It’s made me way more effective. I can get through a whole work day fully focused and fully engaged.”

I can’t imagine what life would be like without it.

Controlling pandemic-induced worry and anxiety with Daylight 

For David, the issue was heightened worry and anxiety due to the pandemic. While he was familiar with mental health difficulties because his wife and daughter experienced obsessive compulsive disorder, he had never experienced mental health difficulties himself. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, something changed. “I had tingling hands, numbing in my body. Things that I had never felt before,” he explained. But the worst part was how it impacted his relationships with his family and friends, particularly his kids. “I was irritable and didn’t want to do much with my kids,” he shared. “It definitely started taking its toll on me.” 

I had tingling hands, numbing in my body. Things I had never felt before.

Like Tim, David received an email from his employer about the availability of Daylight, a digital therapeutic designed to address worry and anxiety. It sounded perfect for him, so he decided to give it a try. “I was surprised and pleased with how easy it was to just follow the steps.” He liked the “soothing voice” within the product that routinely asked how he was feeling. And he welcomed the cognitive and behavioral techniques that he could use whenever he was experiencing high levels of  worry and anxiety. He noted that after using Daylight he quickly felt more relaxed and in control of his emotions. “After 10 or 15 minutes, you’re in a different spot.” 

According to David, the best part of using Daylight was how it affected his relationships. “To be able to take control back, do more with my kids and be more available for them. To be in a good mood and not be this ‘grumpy’ dad. It was priceless.” Based on his own experience, David has been actively spreading the word about Daylight to friends and colleagues. “Ask your employer about this,” he advised. “I think it’s a great benefit to have. It gives you a good starting point to take control of your struggles.”

To be able to take control back, do more with my kids and be available for them. To be in a good mood and not be this ‘grumpy’ dad. It was priceless.

To hear this inspiring conversation in its entirety, check out a recording of the panel.

Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA’s Current Enforcement Discretion Policy for Digital Health Devices for Psychiatric Disorders, for patients aged 18 years and older, who are followed by and diagnosed with Insomnia Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder by a medical provider, Sleepio and Daylight can be made available as an adjunct to their usual medical care for Insomnia Disorder or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, respectively. Sleepio and Daylight do not replace the care of a medical provider or the patient’s medication. Sleepio and Daylight have not been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for these indications. Users are directed to not make any changes to their prescribed medication or other type of medical treatment without seeking professional medical advice.

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