Researchers from Monash University’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health have developed a mobile app called SleepSync, which aims to help hospital shift workers improve their sleep and overall mood. Shift workers, particularly those who work in intensive care and emergency departments, are at high risk of experiencing sleep disturbance and misalignment due to working outside the typical 9-to-5 work hour regime. This can lead to impaired alertness, increased sleepiness during wakefulness, and an increased risk of errors, accidents, and injuries.
SleepSync is designed to entirely tailor a sleep-wake cycle to an individual user by taking into account their work and personal commitments, as well as their daily logging of actual sleep/wake times and mood. The app provides biologically viable recommendations for sleep timing based on a user’s calendar, such as work shifts and important personal activities. It also provides a «recovery score» based on a user’s level of adherence to the recommended sleep times.
In a study conducted by the researchers, 27 hospital shift workers tried out the app over a two-week period. The results showed that seven in 10 participants had fallen asleep easier and over 80% had better quality sleep after using the app. Participants also slept 29 minutes longer on average each night. Furthermore, 67% of the participants noted the impact of SleepSync on their behaviour and habits while 82% found the app easy to incorporate into their daily lives. The app also helped to improve participants’ mood, insomnia symptom severity, sleep hygiene, and sleep-related daytime impairments.
Article written by Adam Ang