For as long as they've existed, sleep studies have been conducted in laboratories, not necessarily creating an accurate atmosphere for its subjects, who are used to getting shut-eye in their own beds. However, a new application called Entrain aims to collect more accurate data by studying participants in their natural sleeping environments.
Already, researchers have used the app to discover how mounting social pressures influence sleep. According to new results published in Science Advances, these pressures can delay bedtimes and decrease overall amount of sleep, concluding that bedtimes affect sleep quality more than wake times. The study also discovered that women schedule more sleep time than men do.
So, how is this app able to collect such a wealth of information? It has dual functions. Not only does it allow researchers to gain a more exact view of sleeping patterns, it also helps users create and stick to a healthy routine in new time zones. This feature was meant to give participants an incentive to provide more personal details for the study.
"People were motivated to give good data to the app because they wanted to get over jet lag quicker," Daniel Forger, one of the scientists involved in the study, told WIRED magazine.
According to WIRED, the app gained over 8,000 users from 128 countries in its first year, giving researchers details such as home time zones, amount of light exposure as well as sleep and wake times.
Though this is the first study to use an app to collect its data, it's not the first to link social influences and sleep behavior. Professor Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University in the UK, told the Daily Mail that he found women tend to require more sleep than men because they are prone to multi-task and use more of their brains throughout the day.
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