Sleep apps and trackers may actually harm your sleep says new study

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More than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep according to the latest government study. And in recent years, some of those 80 million people have turned to new apps and fitness devices that can track your sleep for help.

Now those tools have come into question after a new study shows they may not be effective. The study out of a Chicago University finds the the devices can not only be misleading, they can actually contribute to anxiety-induced insomnia.

Snoring, allergies, children; when sleep competes with the waking world, it rarely wins.

“I wake up in the middle of the night almost every night,” said MaryConway Wyatt, who says she has nightly sleep problems.

“You feel like you’re tired all the time,” said Robert Wyatt, who used to work the night shift.

“I could always use more sleep,” said Sallie Rozier in Spartanburg.

Rozier, says she uses a fitness tracker to help her assess her sleep.

It tells you I guess kind of when you move, I guess rolling over,” she said.

We asked, “is that helpful to help you learn to sleep better?”

“I don’t know, no I just use it as, OK, I got enough sleep tonight,” she explained.

Researchers are now cautioning people from relying too heavily on their sleep tracking apps and devices. A recent Rush University Medical School study found a few major flaws. For one, the trackers can be misleading.

“I kind of figured that because there are times when I’ll stay up and watch TV at night, and it will count that as sleeping,” said Rozier.

The study also found people who checked the data became more stressed, worried about not getting enough sleep. Sleep expert Shari Angel Newman with Spartanburg Regional’s Sleep Services says that can contribute to insomnia.

“Turn off your worry at 9pm, or whatever time works best for you. After that time no more worry. And try to give yourself an opportunity to relax about 30 minutes before bedtime,” said Newman.

Sleep experts say it’s not like you have to throw out the app or device. They can actually give you a rough estimate of how many hours you’ve slept a night. But don’t use them to diagnose serious issues like sleep apnea.

To catch more zzz’s limit your caffeine, stick to a regular sleep schedule, and limit your screen-time in the bedroom.

“We’re going to bed with electronics and gadgets. We’re waking up and sleep texting. And our sleep is so disturbed, we’re not giving it the priority it deserves,” said Newman.

Rozier only got 5 hours last night, but after all this talk of sleep she says “I might try to go to bed earlier tonight.”

Sleep experts recommend getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. The best test for your own body is if you wake up feeling good, then you know you’ve had enough sleep

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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