What’s the Deal With Sleep-Tracking Apps?
Smartphone sleep apps claim to measure your body’s movements using the phone’s accelerometer to track restlessness during the night. It’s easy enough – download one of these apps, then put your phone facedown next to you while sleeping. Many of these apps will provide you with a report of how many times you woke up and what times during the night you were active. However, as Montgomery-Downs notes, it’s important to remember that the devices currently on the market can’t truly identify when you’re sleeping or awake. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you feel you have a sleep disorder, such as insomnia.
Alternatively, sleep tracking devices can be worn on the wrist or clipped to your PJs during the night, using built-in accelerometers and software to track your sleep patterns over time. These devices may also be more accurate than apps, since they reduce the chance that movement by a pet or bedmate is registered.
What Else Should I Know?
If you think that lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns could be a migraine or headache trigger for you, consider keeping a headache diary. A sleep tracker could be a good tool to use as part of your headache or migraine diary.
Montgomery-Downs does warn that people with sleep apnea, in which breathing periodically stops and starts, may not find consumer sleep trackers particularly useful. While sleep apnea causes people to wake up frequently, it rarely causes movement, she says.
If you believe you may suffer from sleep apnea or any other sleep disorder, talk to your doctor about receiving a professional sleep evaluation. But if you’re simply curious about your personal sleeping patterns, a sleep-tracker could be helpful.