BC professor develops app to help insomniacs

A Simon Fraser University professor has developed a mobile app that helps people fall asleep faster.

Luc Beaudoin, cognitive science professor and co-owner of CogSci Apps Corp., created mySleepButton, an iOS app that applies cognitive science to allow people to get to sleep in less time.

“I’ve been interested in sleep onset cognition ever since I was an undergraduate at the University of Ottawa, taking a cognitive psychology course in 1989,” Beaudoin said. “There, I first began to wonder: is there anything special about the way we think as we are trying to fall asleep? I formed little theories and developed and tested my own techniques over the years.”

In a demo video explaining how to use mySleepButton, Beaudoin said for humans to fall asleep faster, they need to let go of stressful thoughts such as paying bills, relationship troubles, or finding a job, and instead perform a cognitive shuffle.

Beaudoin said this is a process whereby an individual visualizes a series of unrelated images one at a time.The app assists the individual in this process by saying words that one would visualize.

The mySleepButton app was created so that any individual with a mobile phone could use it, Beaudoin said.

“I think we have the potential to help millions of people get to sleep faster, and not just when they first go to bed, but also when they wake up in the middle of the night,” Beaudoin said. “It’s also useful for falling asleep at odd times, which shift workers need to do.”

Feedback has been positive thus far.

Andrei Mesesan, a second-year cognitive science student at Carleton University said the app exceeded his expectations.

“It takes everything that we learn in our lectures and makes it easily accessible to everyday people,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s probably one of the only apps out there that explicitly uses cognitive science therapy outside of the therapist’s office.”

Beaudoin said his team is working on a French version of the app to make it accessible throughout Canada.

He added he has more products in the works that are also based in cognitive science.

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