Can the iPhone Improve Your Sleep?
Americans have a hard time getting a good night sleep. In 2008 The Institute of Medicine reported that 50-70 million people in the U.S. suffer from insomnia. But why is it that the frequency of sleep disorders in other countries do not even come close to the frequency that they occur in the United States? Sleep professionals are increasingly emphasizing that behavioral habits and lack of awareness about the health effects of poor sleep have a lot to do with it. In response, many behavioral programs are being developed to try to raise awareness and improve sleep habits. However, these programs can often be expensive, invasive, and imprecise. Developers of an iPhone application believe they have overcome some of these problems with their recently released application called 'Proactive Sleep.'
Behavioral treatments for insomnia and other sleep related disorders have received increased attention because research shows that these methods can be equally as effective as prescription medication at improving sleep, and without the negative side-effects.
1) Stimulus control therapy - designed to re-associate the bed/bedroom with sleep and to re-establish a consistent sleep-wake schedule: 1) Go to bed only when sleepy 2) Get out of bed when unable to sleep 3) Use the bed/bedroom for sleep only (no reading, watching TV etc) 4) Develop an association, such as a sound or music with sleep 5) Arise at the same time every morning 6) No napping.
2) Relaxation - procedures aimed to reduce somatic tension or intrusive thoughts at bedtime interfering with sleep. These include progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, imagery training, meditation, and ambient sounds.
3) Paradoxical intention - reducing or preventing excessive monitoring of and worrying about insomnia and its correlates/consequences.
4) Sleep Restriction Therapy - this is based on the finding that your body can become used to the bad habits involved with getting a poor night of sleep, which can make these habits more difficult to change. The therapy involves trying to reinvigorate your body's willingness to sleep with a controlled period of sleep restriction. This builds up endogenous sleep inducing chemicals that promote sleep and helps restructure your sleep habits.
5) Cognitive-behavioral therapy - the above combined with cognitive procedures. General guidelines about health practices and environmental factors that may promote or interfere with sleep. General info about normal sleep and changes of sleep with age.
Yet getting professional treatment is expensive and doing these treatments yourself can be difficult and time consuming. Technology was designed to overcome these drawbacks. For example, the Zeo detects brainwaves when you are sleeping and gives you feedback about your sleep. But this device is fairly expensive, selling for $399, and it requires that you wear a headband while sleeping. In response, cheaper, web-based programs to treat sleeping problems are proliferating. These include an online program developed by Lee Ritterband, a psychologist at the University of Virginia that is based on sleep restriction therapy and a program developed by Greg Jacobs, an insomnia specialist at the Univesity of Massachusetts Medical School, that is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy.
While these web based programs are less expensive and are scientifically shown to be beneficial, they still cost about $30. Additionally, it is difficult for these programs to gather precise data to assess your unique sleep patterns because they do not collect information while you are sleeping. This can result in an imprecise feedback because sleep needs and circumstances are very different from one another and this difference is hard to detect without somehow directly monitoring sleep.
Thus enters the iPhone and the Proactive Sleep application developed by Daniel Gartenberg and Justin Beck, two graduates of the University of Wisconsin and who recently won the $10,000 Schoof's Prize for Innovation, held by the UW - Engineering Department.
Despite whether or not the Proactive Sleep alarm clock application will be successful, the iPhone provides an innovative platform to understand and improve sleep because it can non-invasively collect information on an individual's unique patterns. Gartenberg believes that Proactive Sleep can eventually be used to "adjust sleep amount based on sleep need, wake up the user in a lighter phase of sleep, and develop personalized behavioral programs to combat insomnia." The application is available on the Apple applications store and sells for $4.99.
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Proactive Life believes that when science meets technology products that are proactive and healthy can emerge. Specifically, we make iPhone applications that people can use to improve their daily lives. Our first application is based on sleep.