Smartphone-based virtual agents and insomnia management: A proof-of-concept study for new methods of autonomous screening and management of insomnia symptoms in the general population

J Sleep Res. 2022 Apr;31(2):e13489. doi: 10.1111/jsr.13489. Epub 2021 Sep 18.


Insomnia is the most frequent sleep disorder, and the COVID-19 crisis has massively increased its prevalence in the population, due to psychosocial stress or direct viral contamination. KANOPEE_2 is a smartphone-based application that provides interactions with a virtual agent to autonomously screen and alleviate insomnia symptoms through an intervention programme giving personalized advices regarding sleep hygiene, relaxation techniques and stimulus-control. In this proof-of-concept study, we tested the effects of KANOPEE_2 among users from all over the country (France) who downloaded the app between 1 June and 26 October 2020 (to focus on effects after the end of COVID-19 confinement). Outcome measures include insomnia severity (Insomnia Severity Index) and sleep/wake schedules measured by a sleep diary. One-thousand and thirty-four users answered the screening interview (Mage = 43.76 years; SD = 13.14), and 108 completed the two-step programme (Mage = 46.64 years; SD = 13.63). Of those who answered the screening, 42.8% did not report sleep complaints, while 57.2% presented mild-to-severe insomnia symptoms. At the end of the intervention, users reported significantly fewer sleep complaints compared with the beginning of the intervention (Insomnia Severity Indexbeginning = 13.58; Insomnia Severity Indexend = 11.30; p < 0.001), and significantly increased their sleep efficiency (sleep efficiencybeginning = 76.46%; sleep efficiencyend = 80.17%; p = 0.013). KANOPEE_2 is a promising solution both to provide autonomous evaluation of individuals' sleep hygiene and reduce insomnia symptoms over a brief and simple intervention. These results are very encouraging for addressing the issue of insomnia management in people exposed to major psychosocial stress and the consequences of COVID-19 infection.

Keywords: behavioural intervention; general population; insomnia; virtual agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobile Applications*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / therapy
  • Smartphone
  • Treatment Outcome