An app to help you track your sleep cycle patterns.
What does the app do?
For a two week trial, users have access to all features, including snore recorder and sleep aid. This app utilizes CAPTCHA technology for its smart alarm to ensure the user is awake and out of bed. To turn off the alarm, the user must scan a QR code located in the bathroom or shake the phone heavily. It also can sync to a commercially available smartwatch to track sleep using the watch's built-in motion sensor, or accelerometer, and an anti-snoring feature that vibrates the watch when it detects snoring. The upgraded version, also a featured app, Sleep as Android Unlock, gives users unlimited access to the app's features beyond the two week trial. For a more detailed description of the app, see Google Play or App website and for a detailed review, see Reviews.
For the complete app description, go to Google Play (android) or the app website.
✔ The system used to monitor sleep is called actigraphy which is typically moderately accurate compared to polysomnography.
✔ Snore recording; integrated alarm; bedtime notification
✔ Nature sounds for inducing sleep.
✔ Sync data to the cloud.
✔ Link to many other devices such as Phillips HUE lights, wearables, oximetry to pre-screen for sleep apnoea (not reviewed, quite expensive, $119 USD + shipping), a contactless sleep monitoring device called “sleep phaser” (not reviewed, $89 USD + shipping), and a “sleep mask” (not reviewed $69USD + shipping).
✘ I could not find any evidence of the app having been validated in research for it’s accuracy compared to the gold standard of polysomnography.
✘ Actigraphy is less accurate in those people with very poor sleep, restless legs, and who have minimal activity during times of wakefulness.
✘ You have to keep your phone on your bed, or wear a device that syncs to the app.
✘ It may detect multiple awakenings that you weren’t aware of which could cause anxiety.
Privacy and security
The app does collect information relating to your sleep patterns. By using the apps Sleep Cloud service, users agree to share their sleep data for analysis and research. The app has a Permissions and Terms of Service section on its website which states that the developers reserve the right to use your anonymized, non-identifiable data in any way including the right to perform different data analysis including by any delegated 3rd party. Read more about things you can do to improve your safety and security when using apps.
Date of review: April 2018
Platform reviewed: Android
Size: 14.92 MB
Updated on: March, 2018
Practical Apps review: Insomnia apps
Koffel E, Kuhn E, Petsoulis N, et al. A randomized controlled pilot study of CBT-I Coach: Feasibility, acceptability, and potential impact of a mobile phone application for patients in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. Health Informatics J. 2016 Jun 27.
Kuhn E, Weiss BJ, Taylor KL, et al. CBT-I Coach: A Description and Clinician Perceptions of a Mobile App for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. J Clin Sleep Med. 2016 Apr 15;12(4):597-606.
Ko PR, Kientz JA, Choe EK, et al. Consumer Sleep Technologies: A Review of the Landscape. J Clin Sleep Med. 2015 Dec 15;11(12):1455-61.
Did you find this information useful?
Reviewer: Dr Jeremy Steinberg, GP
Date of review: April 2018
Comments: This app is useful for people with insomnia who would like to record a sleep diary. It can enable them to assess insomnia treatment effects and night to night variations in sleep.
The type of algorithm that this app uses to track sleep is called actigraphy. This determines wakefulness based on movement patterns. It is important to note that it isn’t as accurate as the gold standard polysomnography. Actigraphy is particularly inaccurate for those with very poor sleep, restless legs and who have minimal activity during times of wakefulness, and in these cases I would not recommend the use of this app. Actigraphy can also over-detect times of wakefulness compared to a manual sleep log which could cause anxiety.
I would probably recommend doing a manual sleep log rather than using this app. However, if this was too difficult or the motivation to do this was lacking then the app could be trailed, but I would recommend first comparing it to a manual sleep log after using both for a few days. If the app was going to be used, then one could look at treatment effects and night to night variability.
Another feature of this app is the “smart-alarm” which claims to wake you up during non-REM sleep and thereby improve the wakening experience. This would depend on the apps ability to detect one’s sleep cycle which has not been demonstrated in research (detecting sleep cycles needs tracking brain waves), and the so called “90-minute sleep cycle” is a bit of a myth. In addition, the concept of a “smart-alarm” improving the alertness at the time of wakening has not been proven, and there is limited research that refutes this hypothesis. Personally, I felt less awake when using this feature.
Overall, technically it is a quality app. However, I am uncertain if those with insomnia would get much benefit from its use and was overall quite gimmicky. For the main user group that the app targets – those with poor sleep – actigraphy is not very accurate. I am surprised that despite the popularity of the app and the huge breadth of features that the developers have not published any research assessing its effectiveness.
Safety concerns: None.