Today (July 24, 2015) at the CogSci 2015 Conference in Pasadena, California, we will be presenting the first set of preliminary data on the technique used by mySleepButton: serial diverse imagining, which is a form of cognitive shuffle. The data are from a study led by Professor Nancy Digdon of MacEwan University (Digdon & Beaudoin, 2015) Prof. Digdon is an expert in insomnia and its treatment, having published several papers on this topic.
In this study, serial diverse imagining is being compared with “structured problem solving” (sometimes called Constructive Worry), which is a technique developed by Carney and Waters (2006). Instead of telling people not to worry, it tells them to schedule about 15 minutes earlier in the day for worrying constructively (i.e., listing aspects of the worrisome topic and steps toward their solution) and that this activity serves as a replacement for worrying at bedtime. Constructive Worry has been shown to reduce pre-sleep arousal and the time it takes to fall asleep (Carney & Waters, 2006; Digdon & Koble, 2011); however it has two notable limitations: 1) it may not work for all types of sleep-disruptive thoughts; and 2) it must be implemented well before bedtime, which is problematic for people who forget or who have tight schedules.
The preliminary results are promising. An improvement was seen after both interventions. While the difference between the new technique and structured problem solving was not statistically significant, this may be accounted for by the small sample size: Fewer participants were recruited than we had initially planned.
Prof. Digdon and I wrote:
Of interest, 78% of students who received both interventions rated the SomnoTest App [a research version of mySleepButton] as more helpful, 11% rated Structured Problem Solving as more helpful, and 11 % rated interventions as equally helpful. Several participants reported the app helped distract them from thinking about their concerns.
This research is already yielding useful information for improving the cognitive shuffle treatment for insomnia, and hence mySleepButton.
You shouldn’t read too much into these results. From a scientific perspective, one needs a complete study. (We aim to complete data collection for this study in October 2015.) The study should be published in a peer reviewed journal. And it needs to be replicated. (However, see the next section.) If you’d like to decrease your sleep onset latency, you can try the technique and see if you find it worthwhile.
CogSci Apps Corp. also has a private and growing data set on the cognitive shuffle that it finds very inspiriting.
We at CogSci Apps are firmly committed to broad cognitive science. (By “broad” we mean that we not only consider traditional, “dry”, mental processes, but also “affective” information processing.) We build software to test and enhance theories about broad cognition. We develop theories about broad cognition. We design applications based on these theories. And we actively support empirical research. The two co-founders of CogSci Apps Corp. have been doing this since 2002 and 2003. For example, for many years, we led the software development of nStudy at Simon Fraser University. nStudy is a sophisticated web application to study and support self-regulated learning. That is, our software is both a research tool and helpful for end users.
Beaudoin recently presented a paper at the International Society for Research on Emotions (ISRE) on a new app concept..
Despite the fact that CogSci Apps Corp. is currently a small team, we have several apps in our pipeline.
On insomnia. In collaboration with two other groups of researchers at different universities, I expect to finally launch two other studies this fall. They will compare the cognitive shuffle with two other treatments for insomnia.
On cognitive productivity. On Saturday, July 25, I will present another research poster at CogSci 2015. This one is based on my book, Cognitive Productivity: Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective. I will present a research program to assess the strengths and weaknesses of expert “knowledge workers‘” (e.g., researchers’) learning with information technology. I will blog about this on CogZest. CogSci Apps Corp. is developing software to address the information processing needs of knowledge workers.
Beaudoin, L. P. (2015). Cognitive Productivity: Using Knowledge to Become Profoundly Effective. Retrieved from https://leanpub.com/cognitiveproductivity/.
Beaudoin, L. P. (2014, July). A design-based approach to sleep-onset and insomnia: super-somnolent mentation, the cognitive shuffle and serial diverse imagining. Paper presented at the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society’s workshop on “Computational Modeling of Cognition-Emotion Interactions: Relevance to Mechanisms of Affective Disorders and Therapeutic Action”, Québec, Canada.
Beaudoin, L. P. & Digdon, N. (2015) Towards an affective information-processing theory of sleep-onset and insomnia. Manuscript in preparation.
Carney, C.E., & Waters, W.F. (2006). Effects of a structured problem-solving procedure on pre-sleep cognitive arousal in college students with insomnia. Behavioral
Sleep Medicine, 4, 13–28.
Digdon, N. & Beaudoin, L. P. (2015, July). A test of the somnolent mentation theory and the cognitive shuffle insomnia treatment. Poster presented at the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Pasadena, California USA. Retrieved from http://summit.sfu.ca/item/15270.
Digdon, N., & Koble, A. (2011). Effects of constructive worry, imagery distraction, and gratitude interventions on sleep quality: A pilot trial. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3(2), 193–206. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1758–0854.2011.01049.x