Your key to getting a good night’s sleep may not be in the bedroom, but on your smart phone or computer.
Lack of sleep can affect your daily life – whether it’s at school or work, in personal relationships, or your health and safety. Untreated sleep problems can even cause high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
Sleep apps and online programs are becoming a popular way to combat sleep issues. Many find these techy tools can give you the feedback and instruction that can help you get back to sleep.
Keeping an online sleep log, for example, can help you to come up with a daily sleep score. Or a sleep app may have survey questions regarding how much caffeine and alcohol you consume, or how much you exercise and relax. The app weighs your answers by importance to create an overall score based on your lifestyle and morning and nighttime behaviors.
This information can help you to track your sleep and see patterns that allows you to target areas for improvement.
“The app user fills out a sleep log, which gives them feedback based on how they’re answering,” says sleep disorders specialist Michelle Drerup, PsyD. “Based on the feedback, they’ll be able to implement different strategies with just the guidance of computer-based instructions.”
Many interactive online programs also provide daily recommendations to improve sleep, patterns, personal progress charts and motivational tips.
You also can learn relaxation techniques and develop a better bedtime routine.
If the reason you can’t sleep is that you have sleep apnea, then a sleep app or online program won’t be of much help, Dr. Drerup says. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night. A sleep specialist can help treat your sleep apnea.
Sleep apps or an online program, however, can be extremely helpful for brief bouts of insomnia and for anyone looking to improve their sleep patterns, Dr. Drerup says.
A sleep app also may help you if your insomnia has lasted for more than six months or intensifies with stress, or if you wish to avoid taking sleep medications.
Digital tools won’t always replace a trip to see a sleep specialist, but they can help to improve sleep and stress management, Dr. Drerup says.
“We know that when you monitor behavior, it tends to change because you have greater awareness and think twice about it,” says Dr. Drerup.