A Transdiagnostic Self-management Web-Based App for Sleep Disturbance in Adolescents and Young Adults: Feasibility and Acceptability Study

JMIR Form Res. 2021 Nov 1;5(11):e25392. doi: 10.2196/25392.


Background: Sleep disturbance and its daytime sequelae, which comprise complex, transdiagnostic sleep problems, are pervasive problems in adolescents and young adults (AYAs) and are associated with negative outcomes. Effective interventions must be both evidence based and individually tailored. Some AYAs prefer self-management and digital approaches. Leveraging these preferences is helpful, given the dearth of AYA treatment providers trained in behavioral sleep medicine. We involved AYAs in the co-design of a behavioral, self-management, transdiagnostic sleep app called DOZE (Delivering Online Zzz's with Empirical Support).

Objective: This study tests the feasibility and acceptability of DOZE in a community AYA sample aged 15-24 years. The secondary objective is to evaluate sleep and related outcomes in this nonclinical sample.

Methods: Participants used DOZE for 4 weeks (2 periods of 2 weeks). They completed sleep diaries, received feedback on their sleep, set goals in identified target areas, and accessed tips to help them achieve their goals. Measures of acceptability and credibility were completed at baseline and end point. Google Analytics was used to understand the patterns of app use to assess feasibility. Participants completed questionnaires assessing fatigue, sleepiness, chronotype, depression, anxiety, and quality of life at baseline and end point.

Results: In total, 83 participants created a DOZE account, and 51 completed the study. During the study, 2659 app sessions took place with an average duration of 3:02 minutes. AYAs tracked most days in period 1 (mean 10.52, SD 4.87) and period 2 (mean 9.81, SD 6.65), with a modal time of 9 AM (within 2 hours of waking). DOZE was appraised as highly acceptable (mode≥4) on the items "easy to use," "easy to understand," "time commitment," and "overall satisfaction" and was rated as credible (mode≥4) at baseline and end point across all items (logic, confident it would work, confident recommending it to a friend, willingness to undergo, and perceived success in treating others). The most common goals set were decreasing schedule variability (34/83, 41% of participants), naps (17/83, 20%), and morning lingering in bed (16/83, 19%). AYAs accessed tips on difficulty winding down (24/83, 29% of participants), being a night owl (17/83, 20%), difficulty getting up (13/83, 16%), and fatigue (13/83, 16%). There were significant improvements in morning lingering in bed (P=.03); total wake time (P=.02); sleep efficiency (P=.002); total sleep time (P=.03); and self-reported insomnia severity (P=.001), anxiety (P=.002), depression (P=.004), and energy (P=.01).

Conclusions: Our results support the feasibility, acceptability, credibility, and preliminary efficacy of DOZE. AYAs are able to set and achieve goals based on tailored feedback on their sleep habits, which is consistent with research suggesting that AYAs prefer autonomy in their health care choices and produce good results when given tools that support their autonomy.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03960294; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03960294.

Keywords: adolescents; mHealth; mobile phone; self-management; sleep; technology; young adults; youth.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03960294