App helps combat sleep-related health risks

No SLEEPING IN::Studies show that ‘social jet lag’ — having different sleep patterns on weekends — increases a person’s risk of obesity and other diseases

By Lin Hui-chin and Dennis Xie  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Nov 19, 2019 - Page 2

A National Health Research Institutes (NHRI) team has developed a mobile application called Rhythm for users to manage their sleep schedule, combat sleep-related health risks and avoid “social jet lag.”

Studies show that “social jet lag” — a term referring to the different sleep patterns people experience on weekends when they push back the time they go to bed and get out of bed — increases a person’s risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, Institute of Population Health Sciences physician Lin Yu-hsuan (林煜軒) said yesterday.

An American Academy of Sleep Medicine study in 2017 found that for every one hour of social jet lag, the risk of cardiovascular disease is increased by 11 percent, Lin said.

Another study published by Current Biology this year said that sleep deprivation could decrease insulin sensitivity, which would lead to blood sugar spikes and an increased risk of diabetes, he said.

Some of the current ways to manage sleep are either inaccurate or inconvenient for people, such as using wearable devices or taking overnight sleep exams in a hospital, he said.

However, Rhythm, is proven to be scientifically accurate and reliable in helping users manage their sleep schedule and reduce the negative effects of irregular sleep, he said.

The team’s research was published in May by JMIR mHealth and uHealth, a sister journal of leading medical journal JMIR.

Twenty-eight volunteers used the app for 30 days, during which automatically recorded data, as well as self-reported sleep measures, were collected, according to the journal.

Results found no significant difference between the app-recorded and self-reported midpoint of sleep time and app-recorded and self-reported social jet lag.

The correlation coefficient of the app-recorded and self-reported midpoint of sleep time was 0.87. A correlation coefficient of one indicates the strongest agreement and zero the strongest disagreement.