More and more applications claim to be able to help insomniacs and other troubled sleep patients with their smartphone’s sensors. What is the real situation? While not all of them are legit, their scientific basis must be qualified.
One-third of adults are affected by a sleep disorder
App developers and connected objects manufacturers have understood this well. A simple search on the Apple Store or Google Play leads to a hundred apps promising natural awakenings and patented sleep analysis techniques. Some companies have even specialized in this theme. It is the case of the Slovakian Relaxio, which offers eight different applications, all of which have relaxing sound banks for all tastes and profiles.
Many apps want to help smartphone owners to sleep better.
Relax to sleep better, it works
But do these applications work?
There are two types of applications — those who only want to help with falling asleep and those who ensure sleep analysis. The former, through the diffusion of ambient sounds, can undeniably promote relaxation and facilitate falling asleep.
After that, not everyone likes it. Some patients need complete silence. As for the second category of applications, let us say that it is how the data are taken that raises questions.
Imprecise or even far-fetched data
Just leave your smartphone next to you and let the magic of the algorithm work.
The boom in the use of these types of applications is not surprising. It is in line with the trend towards quantified self, i. e. the self-measurement of one’s body and the data that can be derived from it. Many people with sleep disorders are reassured to see these numbers, these graphs, convinced that they could find the key to a restful sleep. The problem is that the data retrieved by smartphones is imprecise or even downright crazy.
Several laboratories have compared the analysis of star applications and that of a real medical device. Like applications that count physical effort, this would be a definite fact.
Despite what they claim, none of these applications have received any real scientific validation. Sleep with your partner in the same bed, have a mischievous cat, and all the data will be distorted.
Nevertheless, for single people, snoring recording may be practical. When you’re alone, you don’t know how often you snore. Therefore, registering may be useful in a clinic.
Nothing beats a healthy lifestyle
More than sleep analysis applications, sleep experts recommend sleep coaches above all. “There is no mystery: a good night’s sleep requires a healthy lifestyle. Do not accumulate sleep debts; do not overeat before going to bed. Several apps give the time at which they think it is necessary to go to bed. It’s always good to take because they encourage you to go to bed early.