Trouble Sleeping? VA has an App for that


Why did the man run around his bed all night? To catch up to his sleep.

My son thought this joke was so funny he repeated it for days. Although I chuckled every time he yelled the punch line at me, I couldn’t help but feel he was unconsciously talking about me. Years after the end of my 2006 deployment to Iraq I was still that person frantically trying to “catch up” to the rest I needed.

Like an estimated 50-70 million other Americans, and an estimated 75 percent of Veterans, I suffer from occasional bouts of insomnia and have trouble getting enough sleep. While images and thoughts from my time at war seldom invade my thoughts anymore, the pressures of work and family have more than taken their place.

The good thing is that insomnia can be addressed with professional care, exercise and good sleep hygiene. To make sure veterans have the tools they need to improve their quality of rest, VA has set up programs to combat sleep disorders stemming from PTSD or traumatic brain injuries, including sleep clinics located at VA health facilities across the country.

What I’ve seen is that as our lives become busier (and more connected) it can be hard to stay on top of our need for good rest. That’s why VA’s National Center for PTSD has partnered with DoD’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology to create the CBT-i Coach app.

Designed to help veterans get the right amount of rest, the free app can be used to track daily sleep and set up reminders and alarms to change bad bedtime habits. While CBT-i Coach is not a substitute for professional care or therapy, it is a good way to evaluate the way you look at sleep.

A feature I find incredibly useful is the guided meditation recordings. Although it may seem somewhat outside the mainstream at first, the narrator’s calming voice leads you through exercises that are a great way to let go of those pesky thoughts telling you to worry about something. I’ve used this feature every day since downloading the app to wind down after a long day.

While apps developed by VA can put you on the right track to a good night’s sleep Veterans are encouraged to contact their local VA health facility and inform their doctors of any sleep disorders they’re experiencing.


Reynaldo Leal

– Reynaldo Leal recently joined the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System as the public affairs officer. He is a proud Marine Corps Veteran who deployed to the Al Anbar Province with 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment in 2004 and 2006. He also took part in some of the heaviest fighting during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004. Before coming to Continental South District he worked on the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team and was the State Public Affairs Specialist for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is glad to be back home in his native South Texas, and looks forward to working for his fellow Veterans. He also looks forward to introducing his two sons to all the great fishing and outdoor opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley.


  1. Elba Stevenson    

    For those of us not able to afford an iOS device, will there be an Android version?


  2. Virginia Dougherty    

    Recommend, consult local VA music therapists. We can craft individually suited relaxing music based on preferences. It would be fascinating to craft a music relaxation playlist application. But, for the meantime, there is an app called, “Relax Melodies” (free) and a premium app of it as well.

  3. V. Schmitt    

    When will this app be available for Windows phones?

  4. The Sleeping Academy    

    I’ve come across a few apps that are great for sleep, mostly the ones that produce white noise or relaxing noise. I kinda find it ironic that so many people sleep with their phones then wonder why they wake up so often throughout the night, but still there are some useful apps.

    Ultimately it does come down to good sleeping habits and taking care of yourself if you want to get a good nights rest.

Comments are closed.