May Featured Service: Sleep Ninja

May Featured Service: Sleep Ninja

Sleep deprivation, and poor sleep quality have a tremendous impact on physical and mental wellbeing, particularly at the critical stage of development during early high school. Our featured service this month is Sleep Ninja, an evidence-based app developed by Black Dog Institute, to help young people to address sleep concerns and improve their sleep.

Black Dog Institute is a leading Australian mental health research institute, founded in 2002, that focuses on understanding, preventing, and treating mental illnesses. They aim to improve the lives of those affected by mental health conditions through innovative research, clinical services, and education programs.  Their work actively promotes mental health awareness, advocates for reduced stigma surrounding mental illness, and improves long-term health solutions.

About Sleep Ninja

Sleep Ninja is a free, evidence-based smartphone app shown to be effective in helping young people with sleep problems. Based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), Sleep Ninja was developed in consultation with young people, their parents/carers, psychologists, counsellors, and sleep experts. The app provides a convenient and accessible tool for individuals to track sleep patterns and receive guidance in improving sleep quality for overall better health.

Sleep Ninja teaches strategies to promote emotional, social and physical wellbeing and academic performance over six ‘training sessions’ by helping teens prepare for a good night’s rest. The app is designed to be used during the day, not a bedtime, with training sessions helping young people

  • Learn about the role of sleep and its importance.
  • Become aware of habits that contribute to poor sleep (for example, sleep environment, daytime routine, bedtime routine).
  • Learn behavioural and cognitive strategies to change unhelpful sleep patterns.

Each training session takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete, and it is recommended that users put each lesson into practice before moving on.

In addition to the training sessions, Sleep Ninja includes a sleep tracking function, bedtime recommendations based on sleep guidelines, reminders for wind down routines each night, clinician-guided relaxation audio to help prepare for sleep, sleep tips and general information about sleep.

What are the benefits of using Sleep Ninja

Sleep Ninja can help young people:

  • Develop foundational skills for healthier, lifelong sleep habits such as setting regular sleep and wake cycles, establish pre-bed routines, and manage changes in the circadian rhythm.
  • Reduce risk of anxiety and depression.
  • Improve access to care and overcome barriers that prevent young people from getting help.

Who is Sleep Ninja for?

The app is suitable for young people aged 12 to 16 years who are experiencing mild to moderate sleep difficulties such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, poor sleep quality, or not getting enough sleep.

If sleep disturbance is causing significant distress or is impacting school, work or other important areas of life, it is recommended that they talk to a trusted adult or see a doctor.

Is there a cost to use Sleep Ninja?

No – Sleep Ninja is free to download and use.

How to access Sleep Ninja

Sleep Ninja is available for free download on the App Store and Google Play.

Sleep Ninja Research and Evaluation

The Sleep Ninja app was designed based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) and backed by research. It has undergone a pilot study, and evaluation in randomised controlled trial before being disseminated and implemented into the  community.

Visit this page to read about the research behind Sleep Ninja.