Pilot evaluation of the Sleep Ninja: a smartphone application for adolescent insomnia symptoms

Aliza Werner-Seidler*, Quincy Wong, Lara Johnston, Bridianne O'Dea, Michelle Torok, Helen Christensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives The aim of this study was to test the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary effects of a recently developed smartphone application, Sleep Ninja, for adolescent sleep difficulties. Setting The study was conducted online with Australian individuals recruited through the community. Participants Participants were 50 young people aged 12-16 years with sleep difficulties. Design A single-Arm pre-post design was used to evaluate feasibility, acceptability and sleep and mental health variables at baseline and postintervention. Intervention Cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia informed the development of the Sleep Ninja. The core strategies covered by the app are psychoeducation, stimulus control, sleep hygiene and sleep-related cognitive therapy. It includes six training sessions (lessons), a sleep tracking function, recommended bedtimes based on sleep guidelines, reminders to start a wind-down routine each night, a series of sleep tips and general information about sleep. Users progress through each training session and conclude the 6-week programme with a black belt in sleep. Outcome measures Feasibility was evaluated based on consent rates, adherence and attrition, acceptability was assessed using questionnaires and a poststudy interview, and sleep, depression and anxiety variables were assessed at baseline and postintervention. Results Data indicated that the Sleep Ninja is a feasible intervention and is acceptable to young people. Findings showed that there were significant improvements on sleep variables including insomnia (within-group effect size d=-0.90), sleep quality (d=-0.46), depression (d=-0.36) and anxiety (d=-0.41). Conclusions The Sleep Ninja is a promising intervention that could assist adolescents who experience sleep difficulties. A follow-up randomised controlled trial is now warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere026502
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • adolescent mental health
  • cognitive-behaviour therapy for insomnia
  • ehealth
  • insomnia


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