Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Jessica Weafer


Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and insomnia are highly comorbid, due in part to the use of alcohol as a sleep aid among individuals with insomnia. Initial studies have shown that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), the first-line treatment for insomnia, is moderately successful at improving both sleep and drinking outcomes in heavy drinkers with insomnia. However, CBT-I is expensive and not widely available. Online CBT-I could be a more accessible alternative. One online CBT-I program, Sleep Healthy Using the Internet (SHUTi), is especially promising due to its high efficacy in treating insomnia and its individualized and interactive platform. Here we conducted a pilot study to examine the efficacy of SHUTi on improving sleep and drinking outcomes in a sample of heavy drinkers with insomnia. Heavy drinking men and women with insomnia (n=53) were randomly assigned to complete the SHUTi program (n=26) or a nine-week patient education program (n=27). Questionnaires examining sleep and alcohol use were completed pre-intervention, post-intervention, and 3-months post-intervention. Linear mixed effect models were used to examine the effects of SHUTi on sleep and alcohol consumption and whether the effects of SHUTi on drinking were mediated by the effects of SHUTi on sleep. SHUTi significantly improved sleep and drinking outcomes relative to the control condition. Additionally, the effects of SHUTi on drinking quantity, but not frequency, were mediated by SHUTi’s effects on sleep. These results suggest that sleep may be an effective treatment target to slow the progression of AUD in at-risk individuals. Further, these findings provide preliminary support for the implementation of an inexpensive, easily accessible health behavior intervention with significant public health impact in a high-risk population.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by University of Kentucky Substance Use Priority Research Area Pilot Award Funds and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism grant R01 AA028503 "Sex Differences in Risk for Alcohol Use Disorder: Neural and Hormonal Influences" from 2020-2022.