The healthy and wealthy track sleep habits the most in the U.S., study finds

NEW YORK — Looking to adopt the habits of the well-to-do? You may want to think about paying more attention to your sleep. People who use smartphone apps to track and monitor their sleep habits tend to be wealthier and report themselves as healthier than the average American, a study by researchers at the New York University’s School of Medicine found.

The findings surprised the researchers, who conducted the first-ever study on American men and women who use sleep-tracking technology.

“Sleep apps are very popular among a diverse group of Americans, and they have a lot of them to choose from,” says study lead investigator, Rebecca Robbins, a postdoctoral research fellow at NYU’s Department of Population Health, in a university release. “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.”

The study is based on data collected from a survey conducted back in 2015. The survey covered an ethnically diverse cohort of 934 mobile phone users, of whom 263, or 28 percent, said they used mobile apps to track how long they sleep. The trackers also monitor information such as what time the individuals turn off the lights, how often they wake up in the middle of the night, and whether they snore, have breathing problems, or shift positions often.

The researchers determined that participants who made more the $75,000 a year were more likely to use sleep apps, as were men overall. More than half of those who took part in the study earned less than $50,000 per year.

Results also showed that the average age of individuals who use these apps was about 34 years, whereas the average age of participants in the study was 47. People who tracked their sleep were also more likely to already use health-monitoring apps, of which they had typically 16 to 25 on their smartphones.

The researchers say the most popular sleep tracking apps are Fitbit, Lose It, and Apple Health.

The study was published online January 16, 2018 in the journal Health Communication and funded by Verizon.

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