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Sleep Tracking Apps, Devices More Likely To Cause Sleep Problems

Update Date: Mar 05, 2017 07:20 PM EST
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More than one-third of American adults are not getting enough sleep according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And as people all well know, lack of sleep or not getting enough sleep causes a plethora of problems that affect not only the physical body but also the mental and emotional parts of an individual.

Though there are a number of factors contributing to the sleep deprivation of a person, a series of case studies have found that sleep tracking apps and devices are more likely to cause sleep problems than help people get a good night's sleep.

In the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers from Rush University Medical Center tackled three cases of sleep problems involving the use of sleep tracking apps and/or devices. More accurately, the series of case studies focuses on how misleading and inaccurate the data collected by these sleeping apps and devices and how it leads to people obsessing about getting the right amount of sleep and ending with more problems when it comes to sleeping.

The researchers are naming this obsession with the use of technology to achieve the so-called "perfect sleep" as orthosomnia. The concept of orthosomnia was taken from another type of obsessive behavior known as orthorexia where people have unhealthy infatuation on achieving healthy eating.

Orthosomnia, which literally means correct sleep, is the unhealthy pre-occupation of people to achieve the correct sleep based on the data collected by their respective sleep tracking apps and devices and these leads to emotional distress causing more sleeping problems than getting that desirable amount of sleep.

But the problem orthosomnia lies with how these apps and devices show inaccurate and misleading data to its users. Specifically, the data these apps and devices collect cannot even differentiate which stages of sleep its user is on. Moreover, it erroneously notifies the user is already sleeping when it fact the user is only lying in bed, reading the book.

The researchers also observed that due to people getting hang up on the idea of achieving the perfect sleep, the apps and devices they use reinforces poor sleeping habits. These sleeping habits contradict what really is recommended by sleep experts and are worsened by the emotional distress the users feel thereby creating worse problems when it comes to sleeping.

Although the researchers acknowledge that these apps and devices have become the norm of the current society, they are optimistic about the potential benefits this technology can deliver when used correctly.

What the researchers are suggesting to other sleep therapists and professionals is to properly educate their respective patients on the realistic and legitimate uses of said technological devices and implementing a better way of incorporating these apps and devices on their various sleep therapies and treatments.

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