Some people become preoccupied with their sleep data, according to a case study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine that looked at several patients who had sleep troubles and were using sleep trackers to collect information about their sleep.
The researchers involved in the study came up with a name for the phenomenon: orthosomnia. What this describes is a state of being overly concerned with getting “perfect” sleep.
Why is that a problem? Interestingly enough, having too much stress and anxiety around sleep can actually make it harder to get the quality shut-eye you are after.
In the case study, the authors mention that the reason they chose the term “orthosomnia” for the condition was partially due to the already existing condition called “orthorexia.” Orthorexia is an eating disorder that involves becoming extremely preoccupied with the quality and healthiness of food. And unfortunately, it’s on the rise.
In much the same way that there’s no “perfect diet,” there is also no “perfect sleep,” Mark Muehlbach told Shape magazine. “While trackers can do good things, like help people up the number of hours of sleep they log, for some people, the anxiety caused by the tracker is simply not worth it”, he says.
In the Journal of Sleep three case studies are described to show the risk for some patients of having too much sleep data. Many patients seek treatment due to perceived insufficient sleep or periods of restlessness or light sleep because of data they have gained from a device.
Despite multiple validation studies that have demonstrated consumer-wearable sleep tracking devices are unable to accurately discriminate stages of sleep and have poor accuracy in detecting wake after sleep onset, it was found to be incredibly difficult to change a patients’ false perceptions of their sleep quality.
Rather than relying on these devices, people are encouraged to tap in to their body’s cues. Falling asleep close to sunset and waking close to sunrise is encouraged as is sleeping between 7,5 and 9 hours.