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Experts say that sleep apps are not so smart

There is a sleep disorder conference in New Zealand this week, looking into research that popular sleep apps like Sleep Cycle and Sleep Time+ could be causing insomniacs to get even less sleep.

The ‘Sleep in Aotearoa’ conference will discuss the new methods people are trying to get to sleep. Up for discussion is the effectiveness of a milk powder drink enriched with the sleep hormone melatonin, iPhone apps that could leave you sleepless.

Sleep App

“The more we investigate, the clearer it becomes that how much you sleep, when you sleep and whether you sleep well has a huge bearing on your waking life.” says conference organiser Angela Campbell. Guest speaker Dr Sarah Biggs, a sleep researcher from Monash University in Melbourne, will present concerns around new smartphone technology that is designed to monitor and improve sleep.

She found that instead of aiding sleep, popular sleep apps like Sleep Cycle and Sleep Time+ could be robbing insomniacs of much needed shut-eye. “These apps can give a false reassurance to those with insomnia or sleep apnea, leading them to believe they’re sleeping well when they’re not.”

They can paint a worrying picture of an individual’s sleep, adding to their night time anxieties and making a good night’s sleep even harder to attain.

Experts at the Sleep Health Foundation have previously found that those who don’t understand that normal sleep involves lots of brief awakenings may be especially at risk.
“Insomniacs who find themselves compulsively checking their sleep stats and worrying about not getting ‘enough’ sleep may need to avoid sleep tracker technology altogether or only check the data less frequently” says Sleep Health Foundation researcher Dr Siobhan Banks.