Can Sleep Apps Be Trusted?

We've looked extensively at apps designed to improve your sleep patterns, but there's always a lingering question: can the data from the apps be trusted? Writing at open academic site The Conversation, University of Western Australia software expert David Glance suggests the answer is "yes".

Cameron notes that the results from the Zeo — an app used in conjunction with a headband to measure brain electrical activity — are comparable to what can be achieved in professional sleep labs. But he also makes the important point that if you've got a serious sleep issue, self-diagnosis probably isn't going to cut it and apps alone won't be enough:

Although the information may be useful in pointing to a problem, it will probably not allow you to self-diagnose any of the specific sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea . . . But your sleep data will increase self-awareness about how long you are sleeping and how many times you are waking up. With that awareness comes an appreciation of how dramatically factors such as coffee, alcohol, exercise and TV and computer use affect how you sleep. You can then modify your behaviour and get direct feedback on the results, hopefully with an improvement to your sleep.

For more sleep strategies, check out our top 10 tricks for getting better sleep.

Dream appzzz: can the iPhone help you sleep? [The Conversation]


Comments

    I just had a clinical sleep test last night for suspected sleep apnea. At home. I went to the clinic yesterday afternoon to get wired up. Three terminals around my heart, four on my head and a few around my eyes (for e.c.g., e.e.g. and r.e.m.). All wires connected to a junction box strapped around my chest and connected from there to a little computer strapped around my waist. I drove home, slept there overnight as usual and returned the equipment this morning. Results pending from my gp. Wearing the gear was a lot of fun and fulfilled a childhood dream (from long ago) of being in a mad scientists lab sort of thing. I freaked my daughter out by wandering around the house pretending to be a zombie. My wife stopped being impressed when I kept insisting I had just discovered that I am really a cyborg. Alternately, she could not take me seriously when I tried to make some serious point, with my festooning mix of hair, wires and terminals.

    Hi, i also had the same type of home sleep study just a week or so ago. Was it a phillips one? I think i was one of clinics first sleep client for their new take home equipment because the phillips rep was there to show the nurses how to put everything on me. Needless to say it was very uncomfortable especially for the fact that i sleep on my stomach and i have this protuding box attached to my stomach that me from doing lying on my stomach. I didn't get ONE minute of sleep so for the hefty price to pay for this test was useless because there's not going to be any real measurable results if i was awake the entire night. I'm not sure how you could have slept with all the wires and box fitted when the whole point to getting to sleep is being comfortable. Im still curious what the results would say but im not expecting any real insight since the test was flawed from the very beginning.

    I thought this post was going to be about sleep apps on phones, but I'll comment anyway; on both an iPhone 3GS and HTC Sensation I've used sleep apps as directed with my phone plugged into the charger and had them overheat the battery in the phone. Android warns you and cuts the charging, iOS doesn't say anything, but both will be doing it damage for sure.

    I thought this post was going to be about sleep apps on phones, but I'll comment anyway; on both an iPhone 3GS and HTC Sensation I've used sleep apps as directed with my phone plugged into the charger and had them overheat the battery in the phone. Android warns you and cuts the charging, iOS doesn't say anything, but both will be doing it damage for sure.

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