The Problem With Sleep Trackers

Sleep Trackers

Tracking your sleep can lead to slumber induced anxiety


For many fantasising about that perfect night’s sleep is just that, a fantasy. The hashtag #weekendgoals trends across social media as we all battle to get those precious eight hours.

What happens when this fantasy turns into a fixated habit of meticulously checking smart wearable devices?


The problem has become so widespread that it now has a clinical term: Orthosomnia.


The term came from observations after increased reports of sleep disorders. Clients were convinced that the data from their smart devices was an accurate indicator of the quality of their sleep.

One such case from Ireland cited a 45-year-old man referred for treatment of insomnia. He reported light and broken sleep resulting in irritability and low concentration levels. When asked to complete a sleep diary, he presented a graph from his sleep tracking device showing “undeniable” evidence of his poor sleep. He stated that if he could reach eight hours of sleep as opposed to the seven hours and forty-five minutes, currently achieved; then he would be okay.

Further questioning about his activities surrounding sleep discovered that he worked until he went to bed and once in bed awoke during the night to check his phone. His job stress, combined with anxiety was the cause of his irritability and low concentration levels. He was unable to switch off.

Unconvinced by this, he continued to track his sleep in a bid to “win” a higher score on his sleep device.

Despite studies stating that sleep trackers are unable to discriminate the various stages of sleep and wakefulness accurately, many seeking professional support present these charts as fact. For professionals, it is hard to explain to clients that these “facts” are not diagnostic tools.


Sleep TrackersSleep Diaries VS Sleep Trackers


In 2018 a study compared four wearable sleep trackers. Seventy-nine individuals were given the task of keeping a written sleep diary and wearing one of these devices over three days.

When compared the trackers did a good job at detecting when they fell asleep. However, they cannot be considered valid when it comes to identifying periods of waking during sleep. In other words, your sleep device may be telling you about broken sleep that never took place. A point to note when using these devices is to determine mood and energy levels in the morning.




The problem is that today we are glued to our devices. A 2017 survey found that a third of us check our phones within five minutes of getting into bed and 40% within five minutes of waking. A staggering half of us admit to checking them during the night.

Before delving into the realms of sleep trackers, improvements to sleep can be made with simple lifestyle changes such as the usage of your smartphone. Researchers say the more interactive a device is before you sleep, the less quality of that sleep will be. Placement of these devices is also crucial as the temptation to check them during the night can be all too easy.

It is safe to say that to help support a good night’s sleep remove all temptations from reach.




If you are finding it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, we have talking and physical therapies that can aid your journey into a restful slumber.

Talking therapies such as Counselling, Hypnotherapy and CBT are useful for when you have something on your mind. They are also very beneficial for when you need to relax, break the habit of waking up to check your phone or even smoke.

Physical therapies such as chiropractic and massage can help with pain and relaxation, which studies have shown promote restful sleep.