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Sleep Tracking Overload: Expert Warns of Potential Risks

HealthSleep Tracking Overload: Expert Warns of Potential Risks

**The Importance of Quality Sleep: Understanding Orthosomnia and Healthy Sleep Tracking**

The importance of sleep quality and duration cannot be overstated when considering overall health. However, can the pursuit of a good night’s sleep become detrimental? Are wearable sleep trackers, meant to improve sleep habits, contributing to a condition known as “orthosomnia”? To address these concerns, we spoke to sleep neurologist, Meredith Broderick, M.D., about the potential risks associated with excessive focus on sleep tracker data and ways to promote healthy sleep habits.

**Understanding the Risks of Orthosomnia**

Orthosomnia, as coined by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, refers to the obsessive pursuit of optimal sleep fueled by sleep tracker data. The condition manifests through behaviors such as compulsive checking of sleep tracking data, anxiety surrounding sleep scores, and an overwhelming desire to optimize sleep data. Those affected may find themselves fixated on achieving certain goals and continually monitoring their sleep data, even during the night. This preoccupation often leads to heightened anxiety and stress, negatively impacting overall well-being.

**Recognizing Warning Signs and Impact**

Broderick emphasizes that excessive attention to sleep tracker data can exacerbate stress levels, creating a harmful cycle wherein low scores induce stress, which then adversely affects sleep. Furthermore, individuals may struggle to sleep if detached from their sleep data, highlighting the significant impact of orthosomnia on mental and emotional health. Wearable sleep trackers, at times, contribute to this condition by sending push notifications that escalate anxiety levels and disrupt sleep patterns.

**Healthy Sleep Tracking for Well-Being**

While the potential risks associated with sleep tracking are evident, it’s important to note that in a healthy context, sleep tracking can facilitate positive lifestyle changes. Individuals who engage in healthy sleep tracking utilize the data to establish improved sleep routines and ultimately achieve better sleep quality. Indeed, the primary focus should be on embracing healthier habits and ensuring consistency for long-term well-being, rather than fixating solely on tracking metrics.

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**Addressing Orthosomnia: Seeking Solutions**

For those exhibiting signs of orthosomnia, Broderick recommends taking a break from sleep tracking and establishing boundaries aligned with personal health goals. Seeking guidance from a healthcare professional is vital, as underlying factors such as anxiety or perfectionism may contribute to the development of this unhealthy pattern. Additionally, the presence of a potential sleep disorder, such as chronic insomnia or sleep-disordered breathing, necessitates evaluation and specialized treatment by a sleep specialist.

**Shifting Perspectives and Embracing Technology for Well-Being**

As technology continues to play a significant role in sleep tracking, it’s crucial that individuals approach it judiciously. While it can be an invaluable tool for promoting better sleep, the emphasis should be on scientifically-backed solutions tailored to individual needs. If sleep tracking induces stress and anxiety, exploring alternative approaches becomes imperative to ensure overall well-being. Broderick asserts that technology should simplify life, not intensify anxiety or stress.

In conclusion, while sleep tracking can be a beneficial tool for improving sleep quality when used in a balanced and healthy manner, it’s essential to remain mindful of the potential risks associated with excessive fixation on sleep tracker data. Recognizing the warning signs of orthosomnia, seeking appropriate guidance, and reframing the implementation of technology as a means to foster well-being can all contribute to promoting a healthier approach to sleep tracking and overall sleep habits.

This article is based on information provided by www.foxnews.com.

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