At Chicago ENT, we see a lot of patients who have trouble sleeping, and it’s no wonder. Insomnia is a serious disability for over 50 million Americans and requires definitive assessment and treatment.
With wearable technology becoming more common, a lot of people are more aware of their sleep patterns. And knowledge is power, right? Apparently not when it comes to sleep. In fact, in many cases, close tracking of sleep patterns seems to be having a negative effect on sleep. Consider a new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, in which researchers identified a new sleep disorder: orthosomnia. This disorder involves an obsession with “correct” sleep.
“I agree completely about overuse of sleep trackers and definitely cell phones at night,” said Dr. Michael Friedman, Medical Director at Chicago ENT. He cites his top two concerns about sleep trackers on wearable devices.
- The sleep trackers are often not accurate and are based on generalizations that will not apply to every individual. That means it may be giving information that is partially or sometimes completely inaccurate.
- Thinking about a sleep tracker can distract patients from restful sleep. The sleep tracker may be a valuable screening tool on a one-time basis but probably is not a good idea for routine use.
“We all realize that one of the most aggravating factors associated with insomnia is the knowledge that you are not falling asleep, and this in itself becomes a disturbing factor,” said Dr. Friedman. “One of the basic treatments for insomnia is not going to sleep when you are not ready to fall asleep. My patients say that they can go to bed at 9 PM but do not fall sleep till midnight. When this happens, we tell them to stay out of bed until midnight. Thinking about the sleep tracker has the same effect as thinking about the need to fall asleep.”
So what does he recommend? If you believe you need help securing restful sleep, leave the diagnosis and tracking to the experts. “Fortunately we now have professional home testing equipment that gives us precise measurements of brain activity and detailed data about sleep without guesswork,” said Dr. Friedman.
Do you believe you may have a medically-related sleep problem? Remove that wearable tracking device and make an appointment to visit Chicago ENT so we can get you on your way to restful, productive sleep.