Overall App Summary:
Overall, SenseSleep is a good introductory app for users who are looking for a breathing relaxation technique to help them prepare for sleep. It is a data-driven, science-backed mobile application that utilizes objective assessment (breathing, HR) along with subjective assessments (user supplied ratings of sleep quality and stress level) to provide insights to users so they can sleep more readily. The app’s user-firendly design, real-time feedback, highly individualized elements, and limited time investment by the user make it an effective, inexpensive to help improve sleep. However, for those that have trouble staying asleep or looking to monitor the quality of their sleep, this app will have little benefit.
App’s Intended Use:
SenseSleep is an mobile app launched recently (JAN’16) designed to help guide users through breathing exercises while monitoring their heart rate (via a smartphone’s camera) and prepare the user to sleep. Users may then rate the quality of sleep and track their daily progress.
Who’s this app most useful for?
This app may be beneficial for users who find themselves wanting to relax before they fall asleep.
How should use it?
Users are advised to use SleepSense right before going to sleep, and then right upon waking to capture the right data for analysis. The user should prepare to start the app after finishing readying themselves for bed. Ideally, the user should be in a comfortable setting (i.e. bed) and prepared to sleep, and then initiate this app to help proceed through the breathing regimen.
Is the mobile app clinically relevant? Any clinical benefits? How would you use it as a provider?
The app is broadly based on the insight that slow paced breathing will help users enter the sleep state in less time as well as reducing time to wake up. The benefits of this app would be to help users go through a mental relaxation technique via a breathing regimen, with feedback by recording and assessing their heart rate to determine relaxation.
Is there any published evidence that the app actually works?
There is no clinical evidence presented within the app, but SleepSense is developed by a company called SenseLabs, which has a suite of apps focused on breathing regimens for relaxation. On their website, they cite a number of publications (claims 500+ studies conducted by the company), and their own internal white papers on the evidence of their technique.
An unpublished manuscript (Wyckoff, S., Ford, N.L., Waits, K. Goulet, H. & Sherlin, L. (2015). Sleep Better – Live Better: A White Paper on the Why, How and What of Sleep Assessment and Intervention) is available on the website, as well as a fairly detailed literature review on sleep: https://speedy-static.senselabs.com/docs/SenseSleep%20White%20Paper%20-%20Nov%2015%20v3.pdf.
Most likely exempt under FDA MMA guidance.
What is the most important/ desirable feature of the app?
The app is very easy to use, and is straightforward in design, with a good introduction on use when initiating the app. It cuts straight to the point by providing the breathing regimen as the home screen, and asks for feedback on the previous nights sleep quality.
How would you compare this app to other similar products in its category?
In terms of sleep monitoring, it is likely based on better data by having the user estimate hours spent sleeping and then self-report how good they were, as opposed to using motion sensors in the iphone. Morning heart rate as compared to evening, pre-sleep heart rate are also a good measure of sleep quality. The respiratory exercises are a proven aid to sleep. All in all, this app has many positives and points of difference as compared to competitors.
If there’s a paid version, is it worth the upgrade?
Security and Privacy
Password: Yes. If the user has forgotten the password, they can provide an email address to resent it.
Data Security: "The app has a brief statement, rather than a policy, around privacy. The user is advised that only a “small selection of internal scientists"" see the date. The app is considerably vague, assuring that the data is anonymized and only used to improve app functionality. "