Sleep apps not so smart says expert

Popular sleep apps like Sleep Cycle and Sleep Time+ could be robbing insomniacs of much needed shut-eye, a Melbourne researcher will tell a New Zealand conference.

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New takes of traditional methods of getting to sleep like milk drinks and new approaches on smartphones are being discussed at the conference Sleep in Aotearoa.

The conference in Christchurch organised by the Australasian Sleep Association is being held on Monday and Tuesday.

It will canvass developments in insomnia, sleepiness, children’s sleep, and the common snoring condition sleep apnea and its treatment.

Up for discussion will be the effectiveness of a milk powder drink enriched with the sleep hormone melatonin, iPhone apps that could leave you sleepless.

A bizarre test to see if cold feet make you feel more alert is also being showcased.

“The more we investigate, the clearer it becomes that how much you sleep, when you sleep and whether you sleep well has a huge bearing on your waking life,” says conference organiser Angela Campbell.

Guest speaker Dr Sarah Biggs, a sleep researcher from Monash University in Melbourne, will present concerns around new smartphone technology that is designed to monitor and improve sleep.

She found that instead of aiding sleep, popular sleep apps like Sleep Cycle and Sleep Time+ could be robbing insomniacs of much needed shut-eye.

“These apps can give a false reassurance to those with insomnia or sleep apnea, leading them to believe they’re sleeping well when they’re not.”

They can paint a worrying picture of an individual’s sleep, adding to their night time anxieties and making a good night’s sleep even harder to attain.