A Review of Sleep Interventions for Healthy Sleep Habits

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is dedicated to delivering national programs that aid General Practitioners, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Service Organisations, and their teams in enhancing patient and community health.

As part of this commitment, RACGP has introduced the Healthy Habits app, designed to assist general practice teams to support Australian adults to achieve a healthy lifestyle through physical activity, better nutrition, and adequate sleep.

Together with interventions to improve a patient’s diet and  physical activity behaviours within the app, RACGP extended their efforts to add an evidence-based behavioural intervention module that promotes healthy sleep behaviours.

The challenge:
Identify interventions that can feasibly be delivered via an app that helps adults improve their sleep behaviours
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)

What did we do?

To identify the effective sleep interventions that can be used in this program, RACGP engaged with BehaviourWorks Australia to conduct a rapid evidence review.

For this review, we only included studies that were systematic or umbrella reviews (a type of study that only reviews and evaluates other systematic reviews) that:

  • Measured the efficacy of lifestyle or behavioural interventions aimed at improving sleep
  • Included general or healthy adult populations of any age as the population of interest
  • Included interventions that could be feasibly delivered remotely or via an app by a primary care clinician
  • Used primary care or a similar location as the health care location for behaviour change

The studies reviewed were further filtered to only include those based in countries regarded as OECD high-income.

What did we find?

We found 14 systematic reviews and 1 umbrella review that addressed the question: “What is the effectiveness of behavioural or lifestyle sleep interventions on sleep, physical activity, and diet in general practice and community settings?”

The reviews found that physical activity interventions show the highest promise for improving sleep.

Following from physical activity, sleep extension interventions showed some promise as well.

Nonetheless, further studies that examine these interventions in various settings and populations are imperative to establish a more confident understanding of their effectiveness in improving sleep.

Interventions for specific diet, music, and meditation showed less promise due to methodological concerns and overall lack of available evidence.

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