Sleeping apps can cause anxiety and insomnia

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A leading sleep expert says a growing preoccupation with sleep is backfiring.

A leading neurologist says smartphone sleep-tracking apps are making people so anxious and obsessed about their sleep that they are developing insomnia, reports The Guardian.

“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 Dr Guy Leschziner, a sleep disorder specialist and consultant at Guy’s hospital in London.

Leschziner says a high proportion of patients seeking treatment for insomnia turn up at his clinic with data about their sleep patterns from apps.

“My view of sleep trackers is fairly cynical. If you wake up feeling tired and you’ve had an unrefreshing night’s sleep, then you know you’ve got a problem,” he said.

“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.”

Leschziner said measuring sleep was part of a broader tendency to “metricise our lives” using technology.

With sleep, this trend is particularly problematic, he said.

“When you get into that obsessive state about sleep it makes sleep even more difficult.”

This article was originally published in the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association publication, Lamp

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