Know anyone obsessed with their sleep tracking apps?

12 Jun Know anyone obsessed with their sleep tracking apps?

Baron et al. have coined the disorder “Orthosomnia” with “ortho” meaning straight or correct, and “somnia” meaning sleep, because patients are preoccupied or concerned with improving or perfecting their wearable sleep data. They have published a case series in the Journal of sleep.

They note it is estimated that 10% of US adults use a wearable fitness/ sleep tracking device on a regular basis, and 50% would consider purchasing one. The use of wearable sleep tracking devices is rapidly expanding and provides an opportunity to engage individuals in monitoring of their sleep patterns.

As sleep professionals, we are not confident of incorporating these devices into treatment/clinical assessments because of low concordance with polysomnography and actigraphy.

However, Baron et al. note there are a growing number of patients who are seeking treatment for self-diagnosed sleep disturbances such as insufficient sleep duration and insomnia due to periods of light or restless sleep observed on their sleep tracker data. The patients’ inferred correlation between sleep tracker data and daytime fatigue may become a perfectionistic quest for the ideal sleep in order to optimize daytime function. To the patients, sleep tracker data often feels more consistent with their experience of sleep than validated techniques, such as polysomnography or actigraphy.

They present three cases in this case series, along with suggestions for accommodating patients’ sleep trackers into treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I). We chose this term because the perfectionist quest to achieve perfect sleep is similar to the unhealthy preoccupation with healthy eating, termed orthorexia. Incorporating the use of sleep trackers into cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia will be important as use of these devices is rapidly expanding among our patient population. The challenge for clinicians is balancing educating patients on the validity of these devices with patients’ enthusiasm for objective data.


Baron KG, Abbott S, Jao N, Manalo N, Mullen R. Orthosomnia: are some patients taking the quantified self too far? J Clin Sleep Med. 2017;13(2):351–354.