Understanding what your sleep app is telling you
- Posted on: Apr 11 2023
Sleep apps on your smart phone and on your smart watch have become very common place
These programs make a lot of claims. Understanding what these smart devices are measuring and how they interpret this information is important when evaluating how they may improve your health.
Phases of Sleep
The physiology of sleep is such that we start in light sleep and then we will move in and out of light and deep phases of sleep throughout the night.
In deeper phases of sleep we get the physical, mental, and emotional restoration that we need.
The deeper phases of sleep also have changes to our respiratory and cardiovascular systems as well as a lowering of body temperature.
There is a slowing of our respiratory rate and cardiovascular rate in the deep phase known as Slow Wave sleep. The rates are very steady as well in this phase.
In the deep phase known as REM sleep the respiratory rate and heart rate also slow but there is much more variabity. In both of these deep phases there is typically very little body movement.
One could see that if a smart watch was equipped with the right sensors along with sophisticated software to analyze all the data that a useful evaluation of your sleep could be possible.
What are the Sleep Apps Measuring?
Modern devices such as the Apple Watch can measure heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature and body movement thus inferring when you are in Slow Wave and REM sleep.
These devices can also measure your blood oxygenation saturation as well as audible snoring. If the software algorithm understands the typical patterns that exist in sleep apnea they may begin to make inferences that a person has this condition. For example, loud snoring that occurs in deep sleep flowed by a cessation of snoring along with a drop in oxygen saturation followed by a body movement and an increase in heart rate and respiratory rate would be a classic example of sleep apnea.
Schedule an Appointment
Presently there are significant limitations to these devices as well as the software. A formal sleep study and a consultation with a physician board certified in Ear Nose and Throat as well Sleep Medicine is appropriate if your sleep app is showing problems.
Call/Text us to schedule an appointment today to discuss what your sleep app is telling you and how to best optimize your sleep.