Are you an avid sleep tracker? I don’t mean keeping a dream journal on the nightstand, but rather using an app on your phone to track your sleep habits. Sleep tracking apps have gained significant popularity over the past couple of years. They’ve made sleep analysis more accessible and convenient for the general population as they require little to no upfront investment (beyond the prerequisite of having a smartphone) and there’s no extra device to eventually lose or that gets in the way. If you haven’t taken one of these apps for a test drive, the majority of apps that actually track your sleep work by identifying your movements using your phone’s microphone as you sleep and work out your sleep cycle from there. Of course, there are also hundreds of other sleep related apps aimed at helping you get to sleep, stay asleep, or wake up on time.

Apps that track and analyze your sleep are particularly interesting because they seem to offer a window into what’s going on during an activity you can’t really monitor yourself. In theory, this analysis could help you get a better, more restful sleep by showing you your sleep patterns over time and having you wake up at the right time in your sleep cycle. But are users taking it too far? According to one article, some people are so obsessed with their sleep habits thanks to these apps that they’ve become anxious and developed insomnia. So, essentially, the exact opposite of the app’s goal.

It seems like these apps are yet another tool you can use to micromanage your life. Without clinical testing (which most lack), they fall into the vast category of lifestyle/entertainment apps that help you keep an eye on your daily activities; be it steps taken, calories consumed, or glasses of water drank, without being able to promise an end result. The overarching question is really how many daily habits or behaviors do we really need to be tracking so intensely? My opinion of sleep tracking apps is the same as it is for most of the apps that fall into this category: they can be interesting, and may be helpful to some users, but I wouldn’t place a ton of weight on the feedback they provide. Maybe sleep is the one part of our day where our phones shouldn’t be involved.

What’s your opinion of sleep or other habit tracking apps? Let us know your take on their effectiveness.

Perri Read, Junior Consultant