Thanks to the likes of Arianna Huffington, the cult of sleep is upon us (exhausting us, really) for several years, now. Despite her admonishment of anything glowing or peeping anywhere near the bed, the rise of sleep apps to monitor and measure our the quality of our rest has risen sharply in the United States. And now, according to one of the first survey’s ever conducted mobile health apps, people are really obsessed with using said apps to count sheep. The results of the survey, conducted by the NYU School of Medicine and sponsored by Verizon, reveal that thirty percent of American men and women with mobile phones track their sleep. These promising up and comers are mostly affluent (earning an average of $75,000 a year), already hyper-health conscious (with between 16-25 healths apps on their phone, already) and, most importantly, have no idea how to interpret the collected data or how to determine its legitimacy.
In other words, it’s an American health trend like any other.
“People are getting all this information on their sleep patterns and not really knowing how to interpret it, or even if it’s legitimate data,” says study lead investigator, Rebecca Robbins.
After several years of gaining popularity, health apps are set to come into their further into their own in 2018, as sensor technology becomes more sophisticated and cheaper. The desire to track one’s health (which might run parallel with the U.S.’s steadily climbing trend towards mass narcissism) is already a highly popular mobile pastime. As the Pew Research Center reported in 2015, the amount of time Americans spend on their mobiles tracking their health habits is second only to the amount of time spent browsing the internet.
The other telling aspect of the NYU survey is the slowly growing digital schism between those with the means to monitor their own health and those without. There is also a growing sleep divide across the country that breaks along similarly socioeconomic lines. An annual survey conducted by The American Sleep Foundation measured the duration, disorders, and quality of participants to calculate their sleep health index. The study reported “particularly higher scores among men, especially among those of higher socioeconomic status (i.e. higher education, income, or those employed).”
So not only are some rich, wealthy Americans sleeping more, they’re also obsessing over it too.