Smartphone Applications to Support Sleep Self-Management: Review and Evaluation

J Clin Sleep Med. 2018 Oct 15;14(10):1783-1790. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.7396.


Study objectives: Mobile health (mHealth) tools such as smartphone applications (apps) have potential to support sleep self-management. The objective of this review was to identify the status of available consumer mHealth apps targeted toward supporting sleep self-management and assess their functionalities.

Methods: We searched four mobile app stores (iTunes Appstore, Android Google Play, Amazon Appstore, and Microsoft Appstore) using the terms "sleep", "sleep management," "sleep monitoring," and "sleep tracking." Apps were evaluated using the Mobile Application Rating Scale (MARS) and the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics functionality scores.

Results: We identified 2,431 potentially relevant apps, of which 73 met inclusion criteria. Most apps were excluded because they were unrelated to sleep self-management, simply provided alarm service, or solely played relaxation sounds in an attempt to improve sleep. The median overall MARS score was 3.1 out of 5, and more than half of apps (42/73, 58%) had a minimum acceptability score of 3.0. The apps had on average 7 functions based on the IMS functionality criteria (range 2 to 11). A record function was present in all apps but only eight had the function to intervene. About half of the apps (33/73, 45%) collected data automatically using embedded sensors, 27 apps allowed the user to manually enter sleep data, and 14 apps supported both types of data recording.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that few apps meet prespecified criteria for quality, content, and functionality for sleep self-management. Despite the rapid evolution of sleep self-management apps, lack of validation studies is a significant concern that limits the clinical value of these apps.

Keywords: consumer health informatics; mHealth; self-management; sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Sleep Hygiene*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy
  • Smartphone*