With a plethora of gadgets and apps on the market, it has become a popular trend to track and analyse sleep. And while it is great to see people becoming more aware of sleep, and their own sleeping habits, in some cases it’s causing unnecessary worry and concern.
Recent research shows that tracking your sleep could be doing more harm than good. There is even a brand new name for it: orthosomnia.
Orthosomnia describes people who obsess over the results of their sleep and fitness trackers. Unfortunately unlike eating five portions of fruit and veg or exercising daily, you can’t MAKE yourself sleep for eight hours. And if people start putting pressure on themselves to sleep better, the likelihood is they won’t.
Stress and anxiety are the main culprits in why we don’t sleep well and tracking sleep can create unnecessary anxiety in the bedroom environment. Anxiety produces alert hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that will keep you awake. Plus having ‘tech’ in the bedroom goes against our general sleep advice of removing electronic devices from the bedroom and switching off screens an hour before bedtime.
Sleep trackers aren’t necessarily bad. They can be a useful tool for looking at your general sleep patterns and can be an incentive to improve sleep habits. However it’s important to remember that the data they provide isn’t always accurate – there’s a danger some people are putting too much trust in them. The best way to track and evaluate sleep is to go to a sleep lab for testing.
But tracking everything – whether it’s sleep, steps or food – becomes very unrelaxing! Ask a good sleeper what they do to sleep well and chances are they won’t be able to tell you. They don’t really do anything and they certainly don’t overthink it.
If you’re obsessing over the tech, stop using it! Instead put some good sleep hygiene principles into practice – having a regular sleep pattern, winding down sufficiently before bed, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, creating the right bedroom environment etc. Remember, the best way to gauge how well you are sleeping is to listen to your body and assess how you feel the next day.
We really should be enjoying sleep, not trying to micromanage it.