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The sad truth about sleep-tracking devices and apps



For some practical tips on how to get more distance, I sought out Raphael Vallat, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His main advice: Do not check sleep data regularly.

"If you look at your data, it can change the perception of your sleep," he said. "You might think," Oh, I didn't sleep well. Should I be tired? Am I in a bad mood? & # 39; "

Here's what I learned after two weeks of sleep tracking.

To understand sleep tracking data, I hid in how sleep works. There are three main phases: Light sleep, deep sleep and REM sleep (for fast eye movement).

The deep sleep stage is beneficial for physical restoration, such as muscle repair and metabolism recovery, said researchers. REM sleep, the stage in which we dream, helps repair our psychological and emotional networks

On average, a person completes a sleep course, which includes each of the three major stages every 90 minutes, in order to get a good night's sleep, complete four or five cycles, partly because the cycles are not the ones the same during the night: The early cycles have deeper sleep, while later have more REM sleep.

But our sleep tracking technology? It generally cannot accurately measure REM sleep.

In standardization laboratories Generally, the common scientific equipment usually sensors associated with someone's face and neck to measure eye and brain activity, including variables.

However, sleep tracking apps for portable devices such as Apple Watch or Fitbit look primarily to movement and heart rate to determine when you sleep or awake – which is generally not precise enough to measure the various sleep steps, Dr. Vallat said. . Without a good look at REM sleep, these apps can provide an incomplete picture of sleep quality.


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