Shutting down: good night's snooze a web click away
Do insomniacs dream of electric sleep?
The answer may not be that far off, with a new online program set to help thousands of restless Aussies get that much-needed night of shut-eye.
A US web-based training course, SHUTi, is being brought to Australia as part of a study into the effects of insomnia and depression.
It's been touted as one of the world's first online treatments to help people get a good night's sleep by changing their behaviour.
While it may sound like self-help, the program has been clinically-proven in a US study which found a number of adult insomniacs reporting significant improvement in their sleeping patterns.
Through tutorials and modules, the web course trains people to change their sleeping habits and the way they think about snoozing.
Techniques range from encouraging people to avoid sleep-blocking stimulants like caffeine and alcohol; reading or watching TV before bed; and ways to shut that annoying voice that warns of the doom that awaits insomnia.
A local version of the study was launched on Wednesday to coincide with the 2012 International Black Dog Lecture, hosted by mental health body the Black Dog Institute.
The institute aims to recruit about 1600 volunteers to take part in the study, which will research the link between insomnia, depression and other mental health issues.
The Australian study will be much bigger than the US one because it's based on a population study, and aims to prevent, rather than treat, mood disorders, anxiety and depression.
The institute's Helen Christensen, who is leading the study, said while taking an online approach to mental health was not new, the research is the first which applies psychological intervention for insomnia and depression.
Professor Christensen said that the findings of the research could have global repercussions.
"If we are able to show this (program) effectively reduces the development of depression and other disorders, then it really is a major weapon in the war against depression," she told reporters.
"That's because it can be developed to the population at large and that it can be disseminated globally."