Can a smartwatch help improve my sleep quality?

Can a smartwatch help improve my sleep quality?

At least one in three Belgians suffer from sleep problems. This can lead to a laundry list of complaints. What can we do about this? And can the smart watch play a role in this?

Anith Philosvik

Chronic sleep deprivation not only leads to poor concentration and bad mood. It can also eventually lead to depression, cardiovascular problems, weight gain, diabetes, and immune system disruption, thus increasing susceptibility to all kinds of diseases.

However, researchers still don’t know exactly why we need sleep, says sleep expert Manu Sastry of Maastricht UMC+ and the Ciro Horn Academic Sleep Center. We know that all mammals sleep and that this is essential to their health. It is good for memory and for our physical recovery. So we know the consequence of good and bad sleep, but not the cause.”

Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep — some less, some more. Unfortunately, we are having more and more problems drowning in time.

according to research Of more than a million people in the Netherlands, the United States and the United Kingdom, about half of adolescents sleep less than the recommended eight to ten hours, and one in fifteen adults sleep less than six hours on average. An important reason, Sastry says, is our lifestyle. Many people work shifts, and we tend to spend a lot of screen time at night. Older adults in particular often have busier social lives than they did a few decades ago.

“We should prioritize sleep for our health and well-being, but the crazy thing is that we don’t feel tired when we go to bed. We get tired when our alarm goes off in the morning, and the next dip is around 2 or 3 in the afternoon.”

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Caffeine and alcohol

Getting more sleep is the best cure for sleep deprivation, but that’s easier said than done. To make sure they get enough sleep, some people turn to smartwatches that measure the number of hours they sleep. These cost a few tens to around a hundred euros, can be linked to an app, and often promise more than they can deliver, says Sebastien Overeem, a somnologist at the Kempenhagye Sleep Medicine Center and professor of sleep diagnostics at Eindhoven University of Technology.

He said, “A patient came to me with 30 graphs printed from his watch: then I was awake, then I was asleep, and the sleep quality was 60 percent, so there must be something wrong with me. I have no idea what that device is based on.”

Sleep experts look at all kinds of characteristics of our sleep behavior using electrodes that measure brain activity, among other things. Smartwatches measure nothing more than wrist movement and heart rate, after which an algorithm fiddles with the data.

“Algorithms in consumer devices aren’t very good yet, let me put it with a grain of salt,” says Overeem. “They’ve often been tested on a handful of young, healthy sleepers, but they’re actually much worse in people who are a little older.” Moreover, this smartwatch is not necessarily good for sleeping at night. “People can actually sleep restless because they start worrying about dozens of these kinds of machines without additional translation.”

what should be done? Don’t drink alcohol before bed and avoid coffee and black tea in the afternoon. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s okay to drink caffeine throughout the day,” Sastry says. “It can take up to six hours to eliminate half of the caffeine consumed. If people sleep poorly, we recommend that they have no more than two cups of coffee per day and no later than twelve o’clock in the afternoon.

Make sure you get enough exercise during the day, preferably outside, and don’t exercise before you go to bed. Stop any kind of screen a couple of hours before bedtime, try to relax, and if all of that doesn’t help, it might be time to seek professional help. Good afternoon.

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