Sleep applications (apps) have proliferated in online spaces, but few studies have examined the validity of the information contained within the apps. This study aimed to examine the information and functions found within sleep apps, determine if the information is based on empirical evidence, and whether or not user ratings were affected by these factors.
Sleep apps found in the Google Play store (n = 76) were coded using content analysis to examine the types of information, functions, and evidence base of each app.
Only 32.9% of sleep apps contained empirical evidence supporting their claims, 15.8% contained clinical input, and 13.2% contained links to sleep literature. Apps also contained information on how sleep is affected by alcohol or drugs (23.7%), food (13.2%), daily activities (13.2), and stress (13.2%). A mean difference in average user rating was found between apps that contained at least one source of information compared those that did not. App user ratings were not associated with an app having multiple functions, or from an app drawing on multiple sources of evidence (except for sleep literature only). Last, there was a higher average user rating among apps that contained a sleep tip function.
Sleep apps are increasingly popular, demonstrated by the large number of downloads in the Google Play store. Users favored apps that contained sleep tips; however, these tips and other information in the apps were generally not based on empirical evidence. Future research in the area of sleep apps should consider constructing sleep apps derived from empirical evidence and examining their effectiveness.
Lee-Tobin PA, Ogeil RP, Savic M, Lubman DI. Rate my sleep: examining the information, function, and basis in empirical evidence within sleep applications for mobile devices. J Clin Sleep Med. 2017;13(11):1349–1354.