We’ve already discussed that, unlike home sleep tests, smartphone apps that claim to track your sleep may not be very useful. Now a sleep health organization is saying they might even be harmful to your sleep.

Inaccurate Results

Fitbit sleeping monitor and phone with health appProbably the biggest potential problem for these apps is that they can be inaccurate. Most of these apps work based on the accelerometer in the phone. They measure your movement and use an algorithm to calculate how much you’ve actually been sleeping.

The problem is, comparisons with polysomnograms that actually measure sleep shows that these tools can overestimate your sleep by over an hour! And that’s in healthy patients, not those with sleep apnea, who might get even more inaccurate readings. An hour’s extra sleep a night would make a big difference for most of us, if only it were true.

False Answers

Because the app shows you’re getting more sleep than you really are, it can make you think sleep isn’t your problem. That can lead you to try to find your answers elsewhere. Since we know your doctor isn’t likely to start the sleep apnea conversation, if you’re not bringing it up, it might go unmentioned and undiagnosed. And that means untreated, which is dangerous.

Unnecessary Worries

On the other hand, your sleep app might be causing you unnecessary anxiety. When you have specific data on your sleep, you can become obsessive about it, leading you to worry about your sleep when you’re just supposed to be sleeping. This can lead to or contribute to insomnia.

Brings the Phone into the Bedroom

Another problem is that these apps give you an excuse to bring your smartphone with you into the bedroom, which should be a phone-free zone. Once the phone is in the bedroom, it can be tempting to check emails or social media or play a dumb, obsessive game. These can all keep you up later, and dose you with blue light that interferes with your body’s ability to get to sleep.

For Sleep Help, Talk to a Professional

When it comes to measuring how far you ran or how many calories you ate, an app is great for your fitness. But when it comes to getting good sleep, you need to talk to a professional. If your sleep is suffering, please call (402) 493-4175 for an appointment with an Omaha sleep dentist at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center today.