App May Be the Answer to Getting the Sleep You Need

A good night's sleep is good for your mood, your mind and your health, and it can also improve your productivity at work, but millions of Americans are not getting enough. An app may be the answer.

Sixty million Americans suffer from insomnia.

“People expect to slide into the sheets like they’re sliding into third base, and then they're like, ‘OK, I'm ready to sleep now, and go!’ And it doesn't work that way,” said Dr. Katherine Sharkey, a sleep medicine doctor who recently spoke at a conference at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Insomnia impacts more women than men, she said.

“The encouraging news for women who are struggling with insomnia is that there are more treatments available than ever before,” she said.

That includes smartphone apps like Sleep Better, which tracks everything from light sleep to deep sleep — even how much time you spend pounding the pillow during those restless nights.

With the tap of a button, Sleep Time analyses your sleep cycles and creates graphs based on the information. It also features white noise to help you fall asleep faster and doubles as an alarm clock.

Pillow uses advance science and math to track how your weight, blood pressure, diet and stress level impact your sleep pattern.

Sharkey said the key is to be consistent, even on weekends.

“Check and make sure that your sleep times between workdays and non-workdays are not deviating by too much, because if you're asleep on Saturday and Sunday for three hours later than you get up the rest of the week, then those three hours Monday morning, your brain's going to say, ‘Weren't we asleep yesterday?’”

And take notes.

“They say that you can lose weight if you keep a food diary because you have to write everything down,” Sharkey said. “Just keeping a sleep diary, to see, gee, are you cheating yourself?”

The National Sleep Foundation recently revised its sleep recommendations:

  • Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day from 12-18
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours from 14-15
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours from 12-14
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours from 11-13
  • School-age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours from 10-11
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours from 8.5-9.5
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
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