BY: CLAIRE KIM
For most of us, sleep is that moment in our busy day when we can finally settle down, get our heart rate back to normal, and relax our minds from any stress or pressure that may be overwhelming us. It is a designated time when our bodies can unwind from the constant push to keep going under a quiet and comfortable environment. Sleep is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle as it replenishes us with energy that we need to be active. But what happens if you can’t sleep? What happens if you have to force yourself to sleep because it can’t come naturally? This is insomnia, the inability to sleep.
People who have insomnia, face a dreaded fear of sleep because it is the moment when they feel most restless and anxious from having to force themselves to complete it. Knowing that they can’t accomplish this, many people who deal with insomnia reach out for help through apps and devices that perpetuate regular sleep schedules and meditation that may help when trying to fall asleep. Some popular examples of these app “sleep trackers” are Sleepio, Inscape, Sleep Timer, and Sleep by Headspace. Under the presumption that such trackers can help develop better sleep patterns when used, many people are resorting to such aid when they really aren’t that beneficial. In fact, they may be ruining sleep even more.
Welcomed every morning with a flood of data and numbers that relate to one’s sleep the previous night, many users find it hard to stop worrying about their results when they are not what they expected nor “average” in a pool. Essentially, these presumed “accurate” results may be instigating even more anxiety for those suffering from insomnia as they start to assume that there really is a serious problem with them when really they’re just fine.
According to a case study regarding orthosomnia, “researchers found that patients had been spending excessive time in bed to try to increase their sleep numbers, which may have made their insomnia worse” (New York Times).
The way these algorithms have been set up to give inconsistent reviews of one’s sleep health creates a problem in which users start to become obsessed with the numbers instead of the quality of their sleep. In all honesty, it’s exciting to see how technology is making a run into the health field for general users today, but I think it is important for people to really make sure that such devices and apps aren’t dictating their emotions. Simple reminders or tips may serve more beneficial than data charts and line graphs because they actually draw motivation and interest in sleep instead of self-competition to get better.