This is one reason some doctors are hesitant to suggest using trackers. “In some cases, [seeing the numbers] just accentuates the problem; it makes people more anxious,” says Dr. Richard Shane, a psychotherapist who developed the Sleep Easily Sleep Method, a research-based system for helping people with insomnia fall asleep. Dr. Raj Dasgupta, who practices sleep medicine at the University of Southern California, adds that people who suffer from chronic insomnia are also at risk of anxiety and depression, two conditions where seeing quantitative proof of your shortcomings is not always helpful.
You may even fall into this category without realizing it. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as many as 30 percent of Americans suffer from occasional insomnia, while 10 percent of us have chronic issues falling or staying asleep. It’s a problem that is estimated to cost more than $100 billion per year, mostly due to lost workplace productivity.
And our obsession with apps could actually be making things worse. Besides the stress factor, fiddling with your phone before bed can screw up your sleep. “Using the app in bed is the worst thing you can do,” Dasgupta says. Why? The blue light emitted by electronic screens suppresses production of melatonin, a hormone that tells your brain it’s time to snooze.