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Turns Out Sleep Trackers Might Be Why You’re Not Sleeping

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From natural supplements to special teas, people will try anything and everything to get adequate rest, including tracking every minute of it. Who can blame them? But it turns out tracking your sleep can, counter-intuitively, lead to less sleep.

Sleep helps support healthy brain function, your immune system, and your metabolism. Those looking to optimize their sleep might turn to sleep trackers to determine the quality of rest they’re getting. But those sleep trackers might actually be the reason you’re not resting well.

NPR spoke with Seema Khosla, medical director at the North Dakota Center for Sleep, who explained the phenomenon known as orthosomnia. The disorder occurs when you fixate on your sleep and eventually induce insomnia. Khosla explains that she sees the effect in her own practice with patients arriving to tell her they can’t get a perfect sleep score, which then induces stress.

The solution? It’s as simple as ditching your sleep tracker. Khosla tells patients they don’t have to completely give up tracking their rest, but putting aside their tech for a few weeks might help cure their insomnia.

Thankfully, several ways to improve your sleep don’t involve monitoring it. As you’ve been tracking your rest, you’ve likely tried to place yourself on a schedule, and even without a tracker, having a routine helps prevent feelings of drowsiness throughout the day.

Much like Khosla’s call to set your tracker aside, you should also leave tech out of your bedroom. The blue light radiating from your tablet, phone, and television can interrupt your sleep patterns and delay you from getting all 7 hours required by the CDC. 

So next time you’re having trouble falling asleep, maybe it’s time to spend less time thinking about sleep and tracking every metric related to it and more time just relaxing with a hot bath or a good book. . . no sleep-tracking hardware in sight.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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