THE VA MOBILE MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES TEAM IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND DISSEMINATION OF EVIDENCE-INFORMED MOBILE APPS TO IMPROVE THE MENTAL HEALTH OF VETERANS AND THEIR LOVED ONES ACROSS THE U.S. Improving real-world sleep measurement to empower effective interventions for PTSD-related insomnia is a long-term aim.   

BACKGROUND Information

  • Sleep measurement is a key outcome variable of insomnia related treatments for PTSD.

  • Objective sleep measurement is frustrated by difficulties in reliably recording sleep times by sleep diary.

  • The VA Mobile Mental Health services team manages three of the most widely used mental health apps on the app store : PTSD Coach, CBT-I Coach, and PTSD Family Coach. 

THE PROJECT

This project aims to integrate established objective sleep measurement with the VA-supported mobile app, CBT-I Coach. 

The output of a zero-burden mattress actigraphic system (Beddit) would be integrated into the mobile app, CBT-I Coach. The latter app was designed in collaboration with Stanford sleep researchers to support and optimize the delivery of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, a well-validated and durable treatment supported by multiple meta-analyses.

A serious obstacle to the delivery of CBT-I is the accrual of the sleep diary data upon which the treatment is dependent. The Beddit system transduces nightly sleep movements, including respiratory movements and seismocardiogram, and relays them to cloud storage on Beddit.com via an iOS or Android smartphone. CBT-I Coach (iOS research version) communicates with a different cloud storage site (Catalyst.com) with which the NCPTSD contracts. This project would build a pipeline between these two data sites so that CBT-I Coach (iOS research version) would be automatically and continuously updated with accurate objective sleep behavioral data. This enhancement would facilitate and improve the delivery of CBT-I Coach by replacing often incomplete and inaccurate manually-entered data with complete and objective data regarding bed times, awake times, and sleep depth augmented by heart rate and respiratory movement. Beddit devices will be supplied along with direct support from Beddit's founder, Lasse Leppakorpi. 

It is highly likely that work products of this project will be incorporated into both research and clinical applications in the near future. Studies involving CBT-I are ongoing in our group and future studies are envisioned.

Technical Skills

We are looking for student with experience in or willingness to learn the following:

  • iOS development experience. Android development experience is also a plus. 

  • Backend server development and Web APIs