Sleep Apps on Smartphone Devices: Are They Smart Self-Help Tools for Sleep Concerns?

1. Summary

Smartphone apps have proliferated in online spaces, providing people with easily downloadable apps to analyse their health, particularly their sleep. With sleep app developers usually having no background in health and the app stores having no governing body overseeing the content these apps contain, many apps are not based on empirical evidence and hence provide questionable data to the app user about their sleep.

This research explored the information, functions and evidence found in sleep apps in Androids Google Play store. The research also explored if average user rating (app users could rate sleep apps out of 5 stars) was associated with an app containing certain information, functions and evidence. The results showed that most apps were not derived from empirical data and that app users favoured apps with sleep tips.

This research implies that sleep apps are in high demand and app users are seeking information on sleep tips. However, these sleep tips and other information may not be based on scientific evidence. It also raises concerns about app users possibly viewing their sleep concerns as pathological due to unscientific data that is generated. However, it may provide awareness to serious issues and prompt the app user to seek needed professional help.

Future research should focus on the development of sleep apps based on evidence to help address the sleep concerns of app users adequately.

2. Share a PubMed or DOI link to article

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28992831/

3. Do you have any ideas to expand upon this research? Are you looking for collaborators?

To expand on this research, I am happy to work with interested researchers to work together to develop verified sleep apps for sleep concerns, similar to Monash University's FODMAP app, an app used to help people with their diet for gut concerns. Our research showed what content features sleep app users are rating highly and therefore, is a good preliminary source for app construction in this field.

I would also like to do research using the apps that we found to be highly rated among app users in an intervention study to assess their effectiveness and again, happy for collaborators to get in contact.

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Peta Lee-Tobin is PhD student at Monash University. Her research is investigating the wellbeing of shift working nurses and associated coping mechanisms to cope with the demands of the job. Her int...

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