Many smartwatches and fitness bands nowadays offer some form of sleep or other monitoring. The most they can do, however, is tell you whether you slept well or badly. There really isn’t much help it can offer to those who suffer from regular nightmares, especially those induced by PTSD. That could change soon, if only a little, with FDA approval to market the NightWare system for the Apple Watch, precisely to help reduce the adult sleep disturbance caused by these nightmares.
The idea behind NightWare is based on most sleep monitoring features. It uses biometrics to measure the user’s sleep quality and, after sending the data to the company’s servers and executing it through an algorithm, NightWare creates a unique and personalized profile for the patient. This profile is then used as a baseline to compare the user’s future sleep quality.
What sets NightWare apart from sleep monitors is how it reacts to what it considers to be a nightmare. If body movement and heart rate suggest that this is the case, it will cause the Apple Watch to vibrate in an attempt to break the nightmare without waking the user.
There are, however, many caveats to this device based on the Apple Watch. It should not be used, for example, by someone prone to sleepwalking or violence during nightmares. It is also not recommended to use the device when reading or watching TV, activities that can confuse the app and assume that the user is having a nightmare. There is also a risk of ironically inducing daytime sleepiness, at which point the patient must inform his doctor.
The FDA announcement also notes that NightWare is not a stand-alone and independent tool and should be used in conjunction with medication and therapy. In fact, NightWare is not something that you can simply download from the App Store and requires a prescription to obtain it. FDA approval, however, could open the door to similar tools that would take smartwatches to the next level in the medical field.