A report from Fast Company discusses why sleep tracking apps may not be enough to address and treat sleep problems.
At first, like any good American, I thought I’d tackle the problem myself. There’s no shortage of sleep tracking apps and trackers available. They told me much of what I already surmised: my sleep is restless and too short. But they couldn’t satisfy the answer of why.
The answer to that question required a visit to a medical specialist, who diagnosed me with sleep apnea, a condition in which one stops breathing multiple times during sleep. The brain then sends repeated, emergency wake-up signals that prevent a sound night’s sleep. This is often is accompanied by loud snoring and chronic fatigue.
While an estimated 18 million Americans have some form of sleep apnea, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association, the condition goes undiagnosed 80% of the time. The dangers extend beyond poor sleep: Apnea has been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, an additional $3.4 billion in medical costs, and $16 billion in automobile collision costs.
Many who study and think about sleep see a lot of good in the increased awareness of sleep issues, thanks to all the new technology devoted to analyzing and improving it. Yet given how important sleep is for overall health, they caution that sleep is one area where you shouldn’t rely on a do-it-yourself solution.