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Hitting Snooze on Orthosomnia

Obsessed with checking your sleep stats? You’re not alone! About 30% of Americans use some sort of wearable device to collect health data. While these wearable trackers can be a great tool for staying on top of big picture health goals, they can also lead to orthosomnia- or increased anxiety, unhealthy habits, and overconfidence that can get in the way of optimal wellbeing.

Learn how to find a balance between being informed and overwhelmed when it comes to sleep stats.


What is Orthosomnia?

As more and more people strap on wearable fitness trackers, the health community has seen a new condition beginning to emerge – an obsession with health data recorded by wearable trackers. Orthosomnia refers to the obsessive pursuit of optimal sleep driven by sleep tracker data.

While orthosomnia is not yet considered a recognized medical disorder, it can have very real consequences on your day-to-day life. A number of potential symptoms have been identified, with ongoing research churning out new information about the risks and rewards of relying on a fitness tracker to assess sleep quality.

Risks of Obsessing Over Your Sleep Data

Getting great sleep can provide amazing health benefits, including sharper cognitive function, improved digestion, weight management, and more. Getting consistent, high-quality sleep is a big puzzle piece when it comes to overall health – no one is disputing that.

However, when interest and attention turn into obsession and overconfidence, the clutches of orthosomnia may be at play. Here are a few of the most significant risks of relying solely on sleep tracker data to get perfect sleep.

  • Not all sleep trackers provide accurate data all the time, meaning users can be misled by incorrect ‘sleep scores.’
  • Sleep trackers are not FDA regulated. Research shows that sleep metrics are not always calculated correctly according to the algorithms used by trackers.
  • Orthosomnia may lead to arbitrary sleep goals for the sake of a better score on the tracker. For example, some trackers interpret stillness as sleep, meaning lying still can help a user achieve a better sleep score – even if they’re not sleeping!
  • Overconfidence stemming from sleep tracker data may get in the way of seeking professional advice and diagnoses for sleep disorders.
  • Orthosomnia can lead to an exclusive trust in one’s sleep tracker, leading to a mistrust of official sleep studies and data provided by health experts.

How to Manage Orthosomnia

Diagnosing orthosomnia can be tricky, since it’s a fairly new concept, and guidelines haven’t yet been established by health professionals. However, if you feel like you put a little too much faith in your sleep tracker – to the point that you’re obsessing over sleep stats – here are a few tips to restore balance.

  • Remember that sleep tracker data is approximate. Consider your health tracker as a tool to get generalized information about your habits – not a flawless health calculator.
  • Create a multifaceted approach to getting better sleep. This includes adopting a regular bedtime routine, turning off lights and electronics, eating and exercising at appropriate times, etc.
  • Discuss sleep concerns with a doctor. Data from your sleep tracker can be part of the discussion, but it shouldn’t replace comprehensive evaluation and advice from a qualified health professional.

Here’s to getting a good night’s rest – whether you’re tracking sleep stats or not!

AND, if you want some great tips on getting a good night’s sleep tonight, get my FREE Sleep Tips Guide!

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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