Are sleep apps useful for assessing children's sleep problems?

May 21, 2015
Are sleep apps useful for assessing children’s sleep problems?

Smartphone applications are not the best tool to assess sleep problems, according to research by Monash University.

With up to 40 per cent of children experiencing a range of problems, parents are turning to specialised devices and smartphone apps, although it is unknown if the information from such devices accurately reflects their children's sleep.

Dr Sarah Biggs, Department of Paediatrics at the School of Clinical Sciences, said sleep problems could lead to poor daytime behaviour and learning difficulties.

"Gaining access to a clinical paediatric sleep assessment can be difficult due to limited availability in the public health system and recently there has been a surge in the public popularity of commercial sleep assessment devices which claim to provide users with a better understanding of their sleep," she said.

Doctors are also taking an interest in these devices as they may provide a useful tool to screen for .

Dr Sarah Biggs, in conjunction with the Melbourne Children's Sleep Centre, undertook a study of 80 children who attended the centre over a period of six months.

"We asked the children to wear a Jawbone UP and an actiwatch, a device commonly used by sleep experts to assess sleep and wake patterns over time, during a diagnostic sleep study at the Centre."

At the same time, a smartphone, with a sleep application activated (MotionX 24/7), was also placed underneath the bottom bedsheet, near the child's shoulder, for the entire night.

"The results of our study showed that the smartphone application did not accurately assess sleep, substantially overestimating the amount of time the child was asleep and underestimating the number of awakenings during the night," said Dr Biggs.

The Jawbone UP was quite good at assessing sleep, correctly identifying sleep 92 per cent of the time although it was less accurate at assessing wake, correctly identifying when the child was awake only 69 per cent of the time.

As these devices are based on movements, the Jawbone UP had a tendency to overestimate wake with normal movements during sleep being recorded as the child being awake.

"While this provides a fairly accurate assessment of , it is not so good at assessing ," said Dr Biggs.

"Our research suggests that the wrist-based devices may be useful in screening for sleep problems that relate to the timing of sleep, such as behavioural insomnia or phase delay syndrome, but perhaps not as useful in screening for that affect the quality of sleep, such as sleep disordered breathing or periodic limb movements."

Dr Briggs presented the research at the Australasian Sleep Association's Sleep in Aotearoa conference in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Explore further: 'Normal' sleep is still a problem for children with sleep disorder

Related Stories

'Normal' sleep is still a problem for children with sleep disorder

April 29, 2015
University of Adelaide researchers have discovered key signs that children experiencing sleep difficulties continue to suffer health problems even during periods of so-called "normal" sleep.

Sufficient sleep is important for healthy sexual desire

March 16, 2015
In a study of 171 women, those who obtained more sleep on a given night experienced greater sexual desire the next day. Reflecting sleep's impact on sexual desire, each additional hour of sleep increased the likelihood of ...

Movements help measure child sleep problems

December 3, 2014
New research from the University of Adelaide has helped to shed light on the complexities of child sleep, and could lead to improved diagnosis of children with sleep-related breathing problems.

Disruption of sleep in children could hamper memory processes

April 15, 2015
Sleep disordered breathing can hamper memory processes in children, according to a new study.

Study shows that children sleep better when they have a nightly bedtime routine

May 7, 2015
A multinational study suggests that having a regular bedtime routine is associated with better sleep in young children up to 6 years of age, and the positive impact on sleep increases with the consistency of the nightly routine.

Napping beyond age of two linked to poorer sleep quality in young children

February 17, 2015
Napping beyond the age of 2 is linked to poorer sleep quality in young children, although the impact on behaviour and development is less clear-cut, finds an analysis of the available evidence published online in Archives ...

Recommended for you

Asthma drug tied to nightmares, depression

September 20, 2017
(HealthDay)—The asthma medication Singulair (montelukast) appears linked to neuropsychiatric side effects, such as depression, aggression, nightmares and headaches, according to a new review by Dutch researchers.

Parents not confident schools can assist child with chronic disease, mental health

September 18, 2017
If your child had an asthma attack during the school day, would school personnel know how to respond?

Premature infants may get metabolic boost from mom's breast milk

September 14, 2017
The breast milk of mothers with premature babies has different amounts of microRNA than that of mothers with babies born at term, which may help premature babies catch up in growth and development, according to researchers.

Explaining bursts of activity in brains of preterm babies

September 12, 2017
The source of spontaneous, high-amplitude bursts of activity seen in the brains of preterm babies, which are vital for healthy development, has been identified by a team led by researchers at UCL and King's College London.

Why one teenager may need more—or less—sleep than another

August 30, 2017
Sleep problems contribute to a number of mental health issues in adolescents, researchers say. But a lingering question is whether some teens need more—or less—sleep than others to be healthy and at their best.

Study shows probiotics can prevent sepsis in infants

August 17, 2017
A research team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health has determined that a special mixture of good bacteria in the body reduced the incidence of sepsis in infants in India by 40 percent at ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.