Clinicians at Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep have developed an educational app for Apple iOS devices that offers providers who are not experts in sleep disorders information on how to screen and counsel patients experiencing sleepless nights.

Through the app, called MySleep101, providers can access basic information about the seven most common disorders associated with poor sleep quality: restless legs syndrome, hypersomnia, insomnia, sleep apnea, circadian rhythm disorders, parasomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Also See: Patients More Adherent to Mobile, Web-based Sleep Apnea Therapy

The educational tool consists of short video clips that educate providers and consumers on the basic concepts of sleep and findings from recent scientific research. The lectures use the voices of neurologists and board-certified sleep physicians Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., and Rachel Salas, M.D., who led the app's development.

Avatars of the two doctors deliver the lectures. Animated characters communicate essential clinical features, symptoms, and risk factors associated with specific sleep disorders, plus treatment and management strategies physicians can recommend to patients. However, the experts caution, the app is an educational—not diagnostic—tool, and physicians should refer patients with suspected sleep disorder cases to board-certified sleep specialists.

Recommended sleep practices described in the mobile app include putting a standard sleep schedule into practice and turning off electronic devices in the hours prior to bed, in an effort to decrease melatonin triggers due to light emanating from technology screens.

In addition to improving the sleep and overall health of patients, Gamaldo and Salas hope the app will be a tool used by their peers to improve their own sleep habits. Studies suggest that providers who regularly follow healthy lifestyle practices, such as getting the recommended amount of sleep, are more likely to solicit and counsel their patients on these behaviors.

The app is available at the iTunes Store for $3.99 for individual downloads; a bulk discount is also available. A demo version, MySleep101 Lite, is available for free.

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