Kids Sleep Doctor: App That Improves Your Kid’s Sleep Better Than A Doctor
So parents are about to sigh with relief as a free app to improve children’s sleep has been launched by doctors at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London. The app, Kids Sleep Doctor, gives parents custom advice, based on the sleeping patterns of their children, like night terrors or teens staying up all night long.
Paul Gringras, a professor of children’s sleep medicine at the hospital, said that the doctors only skim through a patient, seeing “only the tip of the iceberg” due to the “massive” waiting lists. That is why the hospital decided to develop an app which could focus on the patients more closely and give advice along the way as different problems would pop up during the life cycle of the children aged 0 – 16.
The app initially requires details about the children, like bedtimes, where the child falls asleep, how much screen time they have, and consumption of caffeinated drinks.
After five days of collecting the data on the child’s sleep habits, like night-waking and bedtimes, the actual tailored service of advice begins.
“Hopefully they are sleeping in the normal range, but if they’re outside that then it advises parents,” Prof Gringras said.
“Take a five-year-old who suddenly is waking up every night screaming, doesn’t recognise parents and pushes them away. The app would say it is like a night terror and will happen in 10% of children in this age range and they will grow out of it, but they can also try a technique called scheduled waking half an hour after they have gone to bed.”
For teenagers who are unable to sleep until really late into the night, the app would advise parents that the child needs exercise in the afternoon as it promotes healthy sleep.
“These are not annoying daily tips, it’s tailored advice,” he added.
Considering how the doctors are actually letting their waiting lists shorten for an app, it points at the hospital’s ethical responsibility which is to reduce pressure on the overburdened service, and does not focus on making a few extra dollars.
“I think there’s a lot of people it could prevent needing to see a GP. Parents can do a brilliant job,” added Prof Gringras.
However, the 200,000 children diagnosed with serious sleep disorders such as narcolepsy or obstructive sleep apnoea would still require proper doctor consultation.
Moreover, the app has a dark and orange palette to minimize the amount of blue light emission, which is the wavelength of light that disrupts sleep.
Psychologist and child therapist Professor Tanya Byron commented:
“Many children are affected by sleep problems which can have a major effect on the whole family. Getting a good night’s sleep is so important for a child’s physical and mental development, behaviour and concentration – to name but a few. We know parents know their children better than anyone, and I’m confident that the ‘Kids Sleep Dr’ app will help parents to understand and better manage their child’s sleep problems.”
Kids Sleep Doctor is currently available free on iOS. Android and Windows versions are in the pipeline.