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That Sleep Tracker can make your insomnia worse

Are you sabotaging your sleep in your quest to improve it?

Many new tools become available to monitor your sleep or help you get better sleep: portable watches and bands; "Nearby" units that you can place on your bed or bedside table; and programs that work by monitoring biometric data, noise and motion. They can remind you to start settling down or generate a night sleep report.

But some search specialists are aware that these apps and devices may provide inaccurate data and may even aggravate the symptoms of insomnia. Fiddling with the phone in bed, after all, is poor sleep hygiene. And for some, anxiety concerns can make bedtime anxiety even worse.

It is a name for an unhealthy obsession with achieving perfect sleep: orthosomnia. It was made by researchers from Rush University Medical School and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in a 2017 case study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Dr. Kelly Baron, one of the paper's authors and the director of the University of Utah's behavioral sleep medicine program, said sleep traces might be helpful in identifying patterns. She tracks her bedtime with a Fitbit. But she said she had noticed a trend in patients complaining on the basis of unconfirmed points, although things such as deep sleep vary from individuals.

"People put a lot into what it was telling them" she said. "Like," I'm afraid I'm not getting enough deep sleep. There's something wrong with me. & # 39; "

The data flow and buzzwords can easily become confusing: sleep percentages, heart rate depth, sleep rhythms, sleep disorder graphs, and comparisons with other users.


] Wirecutter tried four popular sleep tracking programs. Read the findings here.]

Dr. Seema Khosla, medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep and chairwoman of the technology committee of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, said she and other clinicians had distorted To keep up to date with all the devices and apps on the market, she appreciates the greater awareness the new sleep technology promotes, but is skeptical of the pitfalls of inaccurate data and increased concern.

"We want to work with our patients to improve their sleep, "she said." This means we need to understand sleep technology – including its limitations – without rejecting this potentially valuable resource rsen. "

In the case study of orthosomnia, the researchers found that patients had spent excessive time in bed trying to increase their sleep numbers, which may have made sleeplessness worse. And they found it difficult to persuade patients to stop relying on sleep traces, even though the numbers were wrong.

Researchers say that trackers can overestimate how much sleep you get, especially if they focus on motion tracking. If you lie awake in bed, the tracker may think you are sleeping. While devices that track heart rate or breathing give a more complete picture, they are still just generating estimates.

A warning from the case study: A woman came reporting that she had an average sleep efficiency of only 60 percent, according to her tracker. She was given medication for restless bone syndrome, tested negatively for disordered breath, and underwent a formal sleep study. But after being told that she had slept deep in the lab, she was not reassured.

"So why does Fitbit tell me I'm sleeping badly?" She asked.

Manufacturers of tracking devices and apps defend their use and accuracy. Dr. Conor Heneghan, a research director for Fitbit, said that few people experience extreme sleep disturbances.

He said sleep can trace the importance of a consistent bedtime and wake up time. It can also emphasize the effects that factors such as alcohol and exercise can have on sleep patterns.

"What we are trying to do is give people a tool to understand their own sleep health," he said.

He said the tapes could provide reliable estimates based on algorithms that the company had developed using machine learning in sleeping labs. The spores can also recognize the heart rate and movement patterns associated with different stages of sleep, he said.

A business-supported study in 2017 compared the sleep data of 60 people, using both Fitbits and medical monitoring equipment in a sleep laboratory. It found that the data fit 70 percent of the time, he said. Dr. Heneghan said that when two human analysts are asked to score the same sleep study, they usually match about 90 percent of the time.

Users of devices that Apple's smart watch has noticed something similar, with different programs that give different points on the same night. Apple says the watchen tracks heart rate and motion data. The app manufacturers are responsible for algorithms that interpret them. "Every experience is unique to that app," the company said.

Dr. Eugene Spiritus, CEO of SleepWatch, an app that mates with Apple Watch, said the company's focus was on getting users to pay attention to their behavior and change it. If you sleep poorly, the app will send a message asking what might have gone wrong. A late meal? Too much coffee? Too much to drink? Skip the gym?

"Can anyone become obsessed with this and have anxiety?" He said. "Safe. But there are many, many telling us that it helps them."

Dr. Roy Raymann, vice president of sleep science and scientific issues at SleepScore Labs, said the company had focused on applications and a "close" device because some people found it uncomfortable to sleep with a gadget on their wrists, the products monitor breathing and movement using radio and sonar waves, and offer a "smart alarm" feature that avoids waking the user from deep sleep, which can feel more

He noted that there had been a discussion in the industry about the need to standardize accuracy degrees.

But no matter how accurate a sleep trace is, he said, it is just a trace. He made an analogy with a bathing scale: "If you stand on it every day, it won't make you lose weight."

Food and Drug Administration does not regulate sleep traces because they r low-risk units that only make general claims about improving health and well-being rather than diagnosing or treating particular conditions.

Health experts say it is important to get enough sleep regularly: It can help you think clearly, avoid colds and other illnesses, and maintain a healthy weight, among other benefits. Chronic insomnia has been associated with an increased risk of dying early, having a heart attack, and developing hypertension, type 2 diabetes, depression and anxiety.

While sleep needs vary by individual, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults up to 64 years old get seven to nine hours a night; younger people need a lot more.

Dr. Khosla said she had seen patients with trackers neglecting basic sleep hygiene, such as following a regular schedule and avoiding screen shots before bedtime.

"People want to separate $ 200 for some sleepers, but we're not willing to just turn off our phones and go to bed," she said.

Sleep trackers have a low-tech predecessor: sleep diaries. Both can be useful in reducing anxiety by reducing "catastrophic thinking", such as the day will definitely be ruined if you just drive on, say six hours of sleep. Dr. Khosla said she advised patients to let go of the unrealistic notion that they must strive for "perfect" sleep.

Dr. Hawley Montgomery-Downs, Professor of Psychology at West Virginia University, who has investigated the limitations of sleep-tracking devices, believes the best way to assess the amount of sleep and quality is based on how your body feels.

She recommended avoiding sleep trackers altogether. Her advice? Find a week when you don't have to get up at a certain time – on vacation, maybe – and turn off your alarm. You will sleep a lot first, but in a few days she said that your body will adjust and let you know when to go and lie down and rest and how much night you really need.

"Trust it," she said, "instead of the device."

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