Sleep Tracker Making Your Insomnia Condition Worse?

One of the most common myths surrounding sleep relates to the amount of time we sleep each night. And of course, everybody sleeps, so everybody has an opinion on the subject. The advent of the smart-watch or sleep tracker has compounded this further. We might be worried about the type of sleep we are getting based on the duration of time we are asleep.

People are getting to bed early to ‘get their 7-8 hours of sleep’ but then waking up and panicking because they didn’t get the right amount of deep sleep. And because you have less control over how deeply you sleep, this is a much more difficult problem to solve. This is a very concerning issue because according to 15 different studies, people who don’t get enough sleep have a far higher risk of heart disease or stroke than those who sleep 7–8 hours each night. This has also been related to an aging brain.

According to scientists speaking to the New York Times, sleep monitoring apps and devices can make insomnia worse by providing erroneous data and exacerbating anxiety.

This is leading to an upsurge in people worrying about a sleep disorder that may not even be there in a condition referred to in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine as ‘Orthosomnia’. 

Some experts say, these sleep monitors may not provide an accurate picture of your sleeping patterns and may even cause insomnia.

So, what are you going to believe? 

Or you may have asked what the true mechanism of sleep trackers causing insomnia? 

The health inspection team gather some facts to insights this concerning issues: 

But before discussing, Let’s talk about: What are sleep trackers? 

What Are Sleep Trackers?

Sleep monitors assist you in keeping track of your sleep. They’re available as separate sleep tracking smartphone apps or as part of a fitness tracker or smartwatch’s feature set.

Sleep trackers, in their most basic form, tell you how long you’ve slept and how well your sleep was (i.e. whether you woke up during the night at all). Other sleep trackers also have listening capabilities, which can detect snoring or sleep apnea sounds, and some claim to be able to tell you how much time you spend in different stages of sleep, such as light or deep sleep.

If you’re using a sleep tracking app, you’ll leave your phone in bed with you. On the other hand, if your personal fitness tracker includes sleep tracking, keep wearing it as usual when you go to bed. 

Waking up the next morning, you can check the tracker to see what useful information it has to provide.

How do these devices claim to share information? 

The accelerometer in your smartphone, smartwatch, or wearable device is used by sleep trackers. Accelerometers are devices that track your movement. If you don’t move, you’re probably sleeping. When you move about when you wake up in the morning, your accelerometer detects this and determines that you are awake.

What the Scientific Community has to Say About Sleep Tracking?

Sadly, investigations demonstrate “a fundamental absence of supporting evidence for the promised functionalities and benefits in the bulk of the devices” time and time again.

The distinction between sleep and wake movement is rather obvious. According to several studies, sleep monitors are fairly accurate when it comes to calculating overall wake time. 

During REM sleep, for example, our bodies are immobilized to prevent us from acting out our dreams, but we may twitch and fool extremely sensitive trackers into thinking we’re awake when we’re not. We also move naturally when sleeping, shifting positions a few times throughout the night to keep our muscles from becoming numb.

Observing your brainwaves, rather than your movements, is the greatest approach to discern between the various stages of sleep. To monitor your sleep and identify a sleep problem, sleep technologists will look at your brainwaves as well as other critical processes including breathing, heart rate, body as well as eye movement, and oxygen levels in a sleep lab.

It’s not as if accelerometry isn’t reliable. It’s simply that it’s not a complete image.

The other problem with sleep tracking devices is that they are unreliable. There is a lot of variation in what different gadgets consider to be awake and what they consider to be asleep. 

So What Are the Actual Causes Behind These Issues?

Let’s take a moment to understand what biometric data from a wearable device measures before we consider how sleep tracking devices can cause changes that hinder sleep. It will therefore be clear how a concentration on achieving idealized sleep can worsen the problem.

Fitness trackers and smartwatches, apps that use smartphone technologies like microphones and accelerometers, and even internet-of-things items (smart mattresses, speakers, alarm clocks, and so on) may all claim to gather and analyze sleep data.

There are several important considerations when interpreting this data:

  • What methods are used to gather data?
  • What are the measurements’ limitations?
  • Is the data on sleep reliable?
  • What criteria are used to define sleep vs. wakefulness, as well as specific characteristics (such as sleep stages)?
  • Has the gadget been tested against sleep medicine’s gold-standard tests (actigraphy and diagnostic polysomnography) to assure accuracy, and how well does it perform?
  • Are the details that makeup summary metrics (such as “sleep scores”) available?

Unfortunately, obtaining this information might be difficult. Many of these goods have not undergone thorough scientific testing or external approval. Experts in the field of sleep medicine are still working on defining recommendations for this type of examination. Specifics may be elusive, because these measures and algorithms may be confidential, and the intellectual property may be protected. These are subject to change without warning, and new versions may differ significantly from previous versions. This lack of openness, as well as the general fluidity with which technology develops, obstructs study.

In general, these devices may not be able to reliably detect sleep stages or identify brief periods of alertness following the onset of sleep. Sleep measurements can be modified, and they may or may not match sleep science. Important sleep information, such as breathing issues or aberrant movements or behaviors, maybe missed by these devices.

According to Fitbit and Other Firms, the Threat of Anxiety Is Exaggerated

Tracking devices and app creators defend their use and accuracy. Dr. Conor Heneghan, a Fitbit research director, claimed that only a small percentage of people suffer from severe sleep anxiety.

He claims, tracking sleep,helps emphasize the necessity of having a consistent bedtime and waking time. It can also highlight the impact of things like alcohol and exercise on sleep patterns.

He explained, “What we’re attempting to do is, provide folks a tool to understand their own sleep health.”

So, What Can You Do to Enhance Your Sleeping Habits?

The first thing to keep in mind is to stay calm. Even if you get fewer than 8 hours of sleep, if you fall asleep fast at night or wake up close to your alarm, your sleep is almost definitely fine. And, regardless of what your app says, if you get enough sleep but still feel exhausted, consider other factors such as your lifestyle, nutrition, and stress levels rather than relying just on sleep quality.

If you have trouble falling asleep at night or feel weary and sluggish during the day, you may have the beginnings of a sleep problem or require assistance in getting a good night’s sleep.

What’s the Best Way to Use a Sleep Tracker?

Despite the requirement for clarification on the meaning of the data, the devices have advantages.

It can shed light on your general sleep patterns, according to lan Schwartz, MD and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. You’ll learn more about your habits and how they impact your sleep. You can take advantage of the device in the following ways:

  • Get a sense of how much sleep you’re getting: More than a third of Americans are sleep deprived on a regular basis. However, many people are unaware of this. Experts explain `a sleep tracker can give you some insight into whether you’re getting enough sleep or not. You can use those figures as a rough guide, even if they aren’t 100 percent exact. Take note of significant changes.
  • Take note of significant changes: If your data shows that you’ve started moving around a lot, tell your doctor about it. According to Simmons who is the founding director of Comprehensive Sleep Medicine Associates in Houston, this could be a sign of a sleep disorder like apnea or restless legs syndrome.
  • Keep an eye out for patterns: Kelly Baron, PhD, a sleep researcher at the University of Utah School of Medicine explains that trends can be observed, such as how much you snooze on weekdays versus weekends. Or when is the optimum time to go to bed? “ People learned that if they don’t get to bed by 10:30 on workdays, They’ll never get 7 hours of sleep.”

Insomnia can be avoided if necessary. Some people may want to avoid using wearables that track this type of health information. This may be the ideal option if you have an obsessive personality with neurotic or nervous tendencies. Consider whether accidental sleeplessness is to blame if your sleep starts to unravel, especially while using these technologies. In some situations, you may need to seek the help of a sleep specialist to get back on track.

Anika Bushra
Creative, strategic and collaborative professional with hands-on-experience and broad knowledge in Copywriting, Content Writing, Campaign Ideation, Feature Writing, Public health, Biochemistry, Molecular biology, Genetic engineering as well as Biotechnology. Currently working on sustainable agriculture projects and my recent mission is to discover new things related to sustainable developments


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