You’re in bed preparing to sleep, but before you drift off, you check the sleep tracker strapped to your wrist. How many hours of sleep will you need for a good night’s rest? How many hours of sleep did you get the night before? Should you adjust the sensitivity to record your every movement in bed, or should you leave it at the basic level?
Sleep trackers are a widespread technological phenomenon that has helped people become more aware of their sleep needs, habits, and deprivations. But ironically, the very tool that is supposed to help us to understand sleep better may prevent us from sleeping well at all.
Some people have become so dependent upon the information that their sleep trackers and apps report that they become stressed and anxious. And that’s not the only way that your sleep tracker may be doing more harm than good.
Here are the ways your sleep tracker can interfere with your sleep:
-Orthosomnia. People who become obsessed with tracking their sleep patterns using technology suffer from “orthosomnia,” a condition where the individual fixates on sleep performance, causing stress and anxiety. This condition, in turn, can result in insomnia.
-Too much time in bed. For some sleep tracker users, getting the most or highest level of sleep is the end goal. This desire has resulted in people spending more time in bed than they actually should, which can cause adverse health impacts.
-Inaccurate readings. Sleep trackers are imperfect machines that don’t provide the accurate readings that marketers claim. Trackers vary widely regarding movement recordings and are often incapable of differentiating between light and deep sleep. Users become dependent on the data they receive and act accordingly, but that data is inherently flawed.
The only factual way to record sleep data is by using brainwave activity; otherwise, it isn’t possible to accurately gauge optimal wake times or when you are truly asleep.
Instead of relying solely on our electronic devices to tell us whether we’re sleeping long enough or not enough, or how restless we may be while asleep, we should use self-reflection assess our sleep habits and cycles. After all, you don’t need a sleep tracker to tell you that you’ve had a lousy night’s sleep.
Sleep trackers can be a fun way to become more aware of your sleep needs, but they shouldn’t rule the day (or night). Pursue good sleep for your best health, not to hit a set of preconceived numbers.