Expert warns of potential risks when sleep tracking becomes obsessive

**The Risks of Obsessive Sleep Tracking: Understanding Orthosomnia**

Sleep is an essential aspect of maintaining overall health and well-being. Many people turn to wearable sleep trackers to monitor their sleep patterns and make improvements in their sleep quality. However, an excessive focus on sleep tracking can lead to a condition known as “orthosomnia,” a term coined by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine to describe individuals who become overly preoccupied with perfecting their wearable sleep data.

**The Benefits and Risks of Sleep Tracking**

It’s important to recognize that sleep tracking, when used in a healthy manner, can offer valuable insights and encourage positive sleep habits. According to sleep neurologist, Meredith Broderick, MD, individuals may feel motivated to enhance their sleep routine and strive for better sleep quality when they are actively monitoring their sleep metrics. When approached mindfully, sleep tracking can facilitate the establishment of healthier sleep patterns and increased sleep duration.

However, it’s vital to acknowledge that a healthy practice can quickly spiral into an unhealthy obsession. When individuals become fixated on achieving specific sleep goals and their sleep data becomes a source of constant preoccupation, it may indicate the onset of orthosomnia.

**Recognizing the Warning Signs**

The warning signs of orthosomnia are characterized by behaviors such as incessantly checking sleep tracking data, experiencing heightened anxiety or concern regarding sleep scores, and developing an obsessive desire to optimize sleep data. People with orthosomnia may find themselves constantly evaluating their sleep data, even during the night, and experiencing heightened stress or anxiety related to their sleep patterns. This excessive preoccupation with sleep metrics can inadvertently disrupt their sleep, creating a vicious cycle of stress and sleep disturbances.

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**Understanding the Implications and Remedies**

Broderick emphasizes that individuals who identify with the warning signs of orthosomnia should consider taking a break from sleep tracking and establish healthy boundaries aligned with their overall health goals. This hiatus from sleep tracking may aid in breaking the cycle of obsessive behavior and provide much-needed relief from the stress associated with sleep data. If the symptoms persist, seeking guidance from a medical professional is crucial to address any underlying psychological factors or potential sleep disorders.

It’s essential to understand the broader implications of orthosomnia and its relationship with technology. While technology, including wearable sleep trackers, can be a valuable tool in enhancing sleep quality, it should always be approached with an understanding of individual needs and grounded in scientific principles. If a sleep aid, including a tracking device, induces stress or anxiety, it may be necessary to explore alternative approaches to sleep management.


While utilizing technology to optimize sleep can be beneficial, it’s vital to maintain a balanced approach and be mindful of the potential risks of becoming overly fixated on sleep data. Understanding the signs of orthosomnia and taking proactive steps to address it is essential for fostering a healthy relationship with sleep tracking technology.

In the pursuit of better sleep quality, the ultimate goal should be to leverage these tools to facilitate restorative and rejuvenating sleep, free from unnecessary stress or anxiety. By acknowledging the potential pitfalls of obsessive sleep tracking and prioritizing holistic well-being, individuals can cultivate a harmonious and sustainable approach to sleep management.


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