SleepHealth app launched to study sleep habits and health

In addition to collecting anonymized data for the study, the app monitors sleep habits and provides tips to users on how to improve them.

By Stephen Feller

WASHINGTON, March 2 (UPI) -- A new sleep monitoring app from the American Association for Sleep Apnea is expected to help people improve their sleep habits and general health, but will also contribute to a crowd-sourced study on the connections between sleep and health outcomes.

SleepHealth is the result of a collaboration between the AASA and IBM, which has linked the app to the Watson Health Cloud to store, analyze and disseminate data collected with the app for the large-scale study.


The app, available only on the iPhone, was built on Apple's ResearchKit framework. The developers said this allowed them to also design SleepHealth with the Apple Watch in mind, using sensor built into the devices to track sleep and health data, including heart rates and environmental light levels.

The plan is to collect data for several years, analyzing it using Watson Health to uncover patterns and connections in data. The system can compare the data to other sources such as medical literature, treatment guidelines, claims and clinical patient data, allowing for further analysis.

"We've made life the laboratory for this study by crowd-sourcing data and input to achieve an unprecedented understanding of sleep in a non-invasive manner," Dr. Carl Stepnowsky, an associate professor at University of California San Diego, said in a press release. "This new app will help us build the world's largest longitudinal study to collect data on both healthy and unhealthy sleepers that can be published as an open study and shared with other researchers."


SleepHealth includes a method to prove participants are over age 18 and can consent to participate in the trial. Once registered, the app will collect data on users, removing personal information before uploading to the cloud. Aside from collected data, users also receive health and sleep tips based on what the app learns about their habits.

"One of our goals at IBM Watson Health is to eliminate silos that hinder collaboration between researchers, patients and clinicians, and create opportunities for these communities to share and learn from one another," said Dr. Kyu Rhee, chief health officer for Watson Health. "It is exciting to see Watson Health and our ecosystem of partners help advance our understanding of how an essential, yet often under-appreciated factor like sleep impacts so many health outcomes like heart disease and diabetes."

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