Sleep Genius

Disease Category:
Target Audience:

Clinical Effectiveness
Version: 1.10.13
Developer: Sleep Genius, LLC
Review Date: 2016-11-01
Cost: Free with in app purchase options

Overall App Summary:

The Sleep Genius Application is much more flash than bang and more marketing than science. There is reference to the application of science in the design of the soundscapes but nothing could be found to objectively substantiate this. There also does not appear to be any empiric evidence available other than an “ad hoc company study” that sleep is improved using this application. This reviewer is skeptical of the concept of ongoing noise of any kind necessarily being conducive to sleep for many people. It also appears the user themselves enters sleep data which will be labor intense, likely inconsistent or inaccurate negating the value of tracking and trending sleep data. There is no connectivity with providers or a users social circle. Integration with common Tracker devices is nominally available, but did not appear to work when this reviewer attempted to connect his device to the App. Finally, many reviews in the App store refer to problems with the alarms’ function and consistency, loudness settings and in addition to many including this reviewer being charged fees multiple times without one’s awareness. In sum, this is not an App we would recommend.


App’s Intended Use:

The Sleep Genius App is intended to train the user to go to sleep by using repeated patters/rhythms of music that the user habituates to.  The app provides specially designed soundscapes they claim “engage(s) the auditory system, vestibular or motion sensory system and brain arousal to keep you sleeping deeper and longer”. The website claims the Apps algorithms will “trigger your brain into sleeping FASTER, LONGER, and DEEPER…and we are the first App offering treatment for sleep deprivation…our program (will) train your brain into it’s natural sleep rhythms”.


Who’s this app most useful for?

Designed for people with all types of sleep difficulties including falling asleep, maintaining sleep and awakening. The App also has a feature for taking a daytime 30 minute naps as well as a daytime relaxation routine that is designed to induce the “Relaxation Response”.


How should use it?

The Apps’ musical soundscapes are intended to be used both to help one fall asleep, stay asleep as well as to wake up gently and progressively. One opens the App 15 min. prior to bedtime, sets the alarm time, then uses the sound to fall and stay asleep which requires the App and phone to be on all night, so must be plugged in to avoid complete battery drainage. Yes, the soundscape runs after one falls asleep though it can be set for 90min, 180min or to run indefinitely. Many users (reviewer included) may not want ambient sound constantly throughout the night, and may even find it interferes with sleep which I did. The App relies on a daily questionnaire the user is prompted by the App to complete, to record sleep and wake time . One can then use the “Dashboard” feature to track sleep Quantity, Quality, Schedule and “Efficiency” (which is not defined). The App claims “there should be a noticeable difference in your sleep within a week of continuous use, and sleep cycle improves after 4 weeks as the brain develops a natural sleep rhythm. “ One may also use different soundscapes during daytime to take a “Power Nap” or to evoke the “Relaxation Response”.


Is the mobile app clinically relevant? Any clinical benefits? How would you use it as a provider?

A person who has difficulty falling & staying asleep and feels they benefit from ongoing sound stimulation before and during sleep may find Sleep Genius helpful. The clinical relevance of improved quality and optimum duration of sleep is incontrovertible with numerous studies demonstrating everything from mood disorders, hypertension, Diabetes, Obesity and early mortality as resulting from chronic sleep deprivation. However there is no significant evidence that this App can improve sleep quality or duration in people who have difficulties with sleep.


Is there any published evidence that the app actually works?

There is no significant evidence for Sleep Genius’ effectiveness.

Company publications cite: “Ad-hoc clinical testing has demonstrated the effectiveness of our algorithms in inducing sleep by reducing sleep latency and increasing efficiency in subjects ranging in age from 1 to 62, and has been shown to decrease sleep latency, increase sleep efficiency, or both, in up to 77% of people.”

The App & company website claim the Sleep Genius design is based on “science done by NASA to help astronauts sleep better” and they site a NASA publication “Spinoff” which is a newsletter, not a scientific journal . The sound technology behind Sleep Genius is per company website, “based on over 15 years of research in hearing, balance, and sleep by Seth Horowitz, Ph.D., neuroscientist and author who’s work as been funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, The Deafness Foundation, and NASA”.

<b> However, the reviewers were unable to locate research that related to Sleep Genius in Google Scholar, PubMed or the company website and publications. </b>

The following studies are cited in company literature though they appear at most only to provide a theoretical basis for the design of Sleep Genius without demonstrating empirical evidence for effectiveness of their soundscapes:
Leslie, K.R., Stickgold, R., Dizio, P., Lackner, J.R., Hobson, J.A. (1997). The effect of optokinetic stimulation on daytime sleepiness. Arch. Ital. Biol., 135: 219-228.
Velluti, R.A. (1997). Interactions between sleep and sensory physiology. J. Sleep Res. 6:61-77.
S. Woodward et al. Effects of otolithic vestibular stimulation on sleep. Sleep, 13(6):533{537, 1990. [neurosensory algorithms to drive sleep-inducing vestibular responses, which have been shown to reduce sleep
latency in elderly people]


Regulatory Compliance

Most likely exempt from FDA regulatory clearance under MMA guidance.


What is the most important/ desirable feature of the app?

None of the features are particularly useful as there was nothing obviously unique, pleasing, effective, or relaxation-inducing about the musical soundscapes available which forms the core of the Apps proposed utility.


How does this app compare to others in its category?

Sleep Genius attempts to address difficulties with falling asleep as well as the concept of daytime “Power Naps” and daytime induction of the “Relaxation Response” which other reviewed Apps do not. The soundscapes are much less pleasing and varied compared to those of Sleep Science HQ. Additionally, the App does NOT attempt to actually measure your sleep by motion sensors as other Apps (Sleep Science HQ , SleepBot etc) do, but relies on a daily questionnaire the user is prompted by the App to complete. This requires work the other Apps do not and may introduce recall bias into the data collected as well. The App does a wake up sequence of sounds at a wake time set by the user, but does not have the “Smart Alarm” feature the other Apps do which are motion sensor based , and wake the user at a period of light sleep shortly before the user-set wake-up time.


If there’s a paid version, is it worth the upgrade?

The Basic package is very minimal while the premium is really required to get any value from Sleep Genius. BASIC/Free features include the Sleep Program Sounds(1) and Alarm (5 minute revive cycle). PREMIUM features include 3 additional sleep programs, Multiple Revive cycle tunes, ”Power Nap”, Relaxation Program Personalized sleep dashboard, and is add free. Many any user reviews in the App Store cite being charged twice ($4.99 each time) without it’s being obvious to the user it has occurred. This reviewer was actually charged THREE times for a total of $12.99 when I thought I had only signed up for the $4.99!



Security and Privacy

Password: Yes; there is a “Forgot your password” tab which allows one to reset it via an email link.
Data Security: There is a privacy policy visible on company website (see Data Sharing).
Data Sharing: According to Privacy & Data policy on company website, Data may be shared with third parties including business partners with no mention found of user consent . It suggests that one can clear one’s personal data from the APP if there is a privacy concern though this reviewer was unable locate this functionality within the App. In addition, one might want data saved for the purpose of trending which is a major raison d’etre for the App in the first place.
Regulatory Compliance:

Ben Kerman

I am Board Certified in Internal Medicine and in Emergency Medicine until 2014 with 30 years of clinical practice and administrative experience. I earned a B.S. in Biology from MIT, and an M.D. from the University of Cincinnati . I completed a Masters Degree in Health Information Technology at Northeastern University in 2015 and plan to become Board Certified in Medical Informatics in December 2016 . I have become focused on Personal Health Informatics (PHI) including the design of Decision Aids and a prototype for a CHF management platform. My involvement in health informatics goes back to 1995 as Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Boston Medical Center where we implemented an electronic patient tracker. As Associate Director of South Shore Hospital’s Hospital Medicine group, I functioned as the hospitals’ defacto medical informaticist working to improve the usability and effectiveness of the electronic health record.

Conflicts of Interest:

Employment: Brigham and Women's Hospital; Consultant/ Advisor: None; Ownership: None; Research: None.

Maulik Majmudar

Dr. Maulik Majmudar is a practicing cardiologist and Associate Director of the Healthcare Transformation Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital; and an Instructor at Harvard Medical School. He lectures at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in areas of healthcare innovation & entrepreneurship, as well as medical device design and development. Dr. Majmudar started his career as a medical student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, completed resident training in Internal Medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and followed by a fellowship in Cardiovascular Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School. You can follow him @mmajmudar

Conflicts of Interest:

Employment: Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Consultant/ Advisor: AliveCor, BioFourmis, Cardiogram, EchoSense, Facebook, HUINNO, MC10, Nokia; Ownership: BioFourmis, Cardiogram, HiLabs, Quanttus; Research: EchoSense, GE Healthcare, MIT.

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