Sleep trackers are counterproductive and can lead to insomnia, says specialist

Patients increasingly presenting app data on their sleeping patterns

Five things to cut out of your diet if you want a better nights sleep

Tracking your sleep via a smartphone app can make people obsessive and lead to insomnia, says a leading sleep disorder specialist.

Neurologist Dr Guy Lescziner said an increasing number of patients seeking treatment for insomnia have presented him with app-provided data on their sleeping patterns.

“We’ve seen a lot of people who have developed significant insomnia as a result of either sleep trackers or reading certain things about how devastating sleep deprivation is for you,” he said at the Cheltenham science festival on Thursday.

Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Lescinzer, who works as a consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital, added that his view of sleep trackers is “fairly cynical”.

“If you wake up feeling tired and you’ve had an unrefreshing night’s sleep then you know you’ve got a problem,” he said.

“If you wake up every day and feel refreshed, are awake throughout the day and are ready to sleep at the same time every night then you’re probably getting enough sleep for you and you don’t need an app to tell you that.”

The consultant went on to explain how the compulsion to track and analyse our sleeping habits is part of a wider aim to “metricise our lives” via devices such as step counters.

While measuring your steps could benefit you by prompting you to exercise more, Dr Lescinzer says doing the same for sleep and reaching an “obsessive state” can make it much more difficult to doze off at night.

According to The Sleep Council, 18 to 65-year-old need on average between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. But the majority of us, it seems, achieve much less than that.

Recent research conducted by the organisation into the sleeping habits of 5,000 Britons found that 74 per cent of people sleep for less than seven hours a night. Meanwhile, more than one in 10 (12 per cent) sleep for less than five hours a night, up from seven per cent in 2013.

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