Sleep Apps Can Actually Cause Insomnia & Anxiety, Says Expert

photographed by Michael Beckert; produced by Sam Nodelman; modeled by Selah Fong; produced by Yuki Mizuma.
According to one recent survey, nearly a third of the UK population could be suffering from insomnia.
Sleep deprivation doesn't just make us feel sluggish and grumpy. According to the NHS, it can also put us at risk of serious medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and shorten our life expectancy.
So it's little wonder that many insomniacs turn to one of the many sleep apps on the market.
However, a London-based sleep expert has warned this week that these apps could be doing more harm than good.
"We’ve seen a lot of people who have developed significant insomnia as a result of either sleep trackers or reading certain things about how devastating sleep deprivation is for you," said Guy Leschziner, a neurologist and clinical lead for the Sleep Disorders Centre at Guy’s Hospital.
Leschziner, who was speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival, also said that he was "fairly cynical" about the very technological basis of sleep tracking apps.
"A lot of them work by tracking movement," he said, The Times reports. "Some are a little more advanced. They probably give a reasonable measure of how you’re sleeping but they don’t tell you about the stage of sleep or sleep quality. That’s even more the case if you’ve got a sleep disorder."
Advocating for a common sense approach to deciding whether you're suffering from sleep deprivation, he added: "If you wake up feeling tired and you’ve had an unrefreshing night’s sleep then you know you’ve got a problem. If you wake up every day and feel refreshed, are awake throughout the day and are ready to sleep at the same time every night, then you’re probably getting enough sleep for you and you don’t need an app to tell you that."
Last year, Refinery29's Sarah Raphael underwent five weeks of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) courtesy of the NHS at the UK's only dedicated insomnia clinic.
Sharing what she learned in an extensive article, Raphael pointed out that the notion that everyone "needs" eight hours' sleep a night is a myth, and wrote: "Blue light from your phone stops your brain producing melatonin, which is the hormone your body releases in preparation for sleep. We’ve all heard this before, and conveniently ignored it before. But if you’re serious about improving your sleep, put your phone outside your bedroom 20-30 minutes before bed and buy a good old-fashioned alarm clock."

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