Orthosomnia: why your obsession to sleep well is taking you off sleep and causing insomnia

During the confinement that caused the coronavirus the Downloads of all types of applications increased in Spain by 15%. Among the top ten of the most downloaded were, of course, those that allowed us to make videoconferences and play to entertain ourselves for a while during the long hours of confinement. But the ones that experienced the greatest increase if we compare the number of downloads before the onset of the coronavirus and the number afterwards are health apps and many of them had only one goal: to get us to stop spending nights in the bank. It is not for less, according to a report from the University of Cantabria 62% of the population suffered from sleep disorders at that moment. But at this moment the problem seems to be another, the coronavirus no longer takes our sleep, our own sleep takes it away. Some people have taken the maxim that good sleep is synonymous with health to the extreme and have made monitoring their rest their new healthy obsession. A disorder that already has a name, orthosomnia, and of which we will tell you all its keys.

Why is it counterproductive to monitor our sleep

There is no lack of reason for the victims of orthosomnia: sleeping well is important to lead a healthy life, it strengthens the defenses, helps the metabolism and keeps us at our ideal weight, benefits the brain, helps regulate emotions … Accumulating nights of bad sleep is a real health risk that has been linked to having an increased risk of disease like diabetes and even some types of cancer.

But going to the opposite extreme and obsessing over the perfect rest is not the solution. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine some people "are taking 'self-quantification' (of sleep well parameters) too far." These people have become true experts in monitoring their sleep time and to achieve their goal of monitoring every minute of their REM phase they invest in all kinds of devices and apps.

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But how reliable are these apps and devices? The real sleep experts (those who have been through medical school) They are very suspicious of the results of this type of apparatus and its measurements. Not surprisingly, in hospitals there are specific sleep study units where severe cases of apneas and insomnia, among other nocturnal disorders, appear … and in none of these units will you see a smart watch and a mobile phone among their appliances.

According to the experts of the North American study, it is not only that the measurements of these apps are not "trustworthy", is that we do not know how to interpret them correctly either. An application may indicate that we have only had three hours of REM phase and that worries us and makes us lengthen our time in bed… when you really only need those three hours.

Experts warn that the parameters used by these apps are general and that each person's dream is different, but by not conforming to the profile prescribed by the apps, many of its users may end up self-diagnosing sleep disorders that do not have or aggravating problems that they do suffer, because there is nothing worse for an insomniac than staying in bed longer than necessary (which causes them to end up associating the bed with frustration) or worsening their anxiety with erratic measurements.

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How to know if you have orthosomnia

If you are a regular user of these devices and apps and the first thing you do every morning is check how you slept… You are at the first warning sign. If, in addition, the results that reflect your nightly rest figures can make your day bitter because they do not reach what is recommended by the app, you should seek help. Obsessing over the perfect rest is just as detrimental to our rest as obsessing over the perfect food for the diet or the perfect workout for your leading an active life. The extremes of healthy living are not good advisers.

Any behavior that in principle can be healthy is harmful taken to the extreme. If going to bed fills you with anxiety Due to the inaccurate figures that your smart watch reflects the next morning… it is time to take off your watch and start approaching your night rest in a different way. A healthier one.

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