Dubious references to smartwatches cause headaches for doctors

Has your smartwatch recently alerted you that you’re not getting enough sleep or your heart rate is abnormally high? Caution: She is not the best advisor for your health, warn two specialists she contacted The duty.

Sébastien Marin, a primary care physician at Barrie Memorial Hospital’s emergency department, made the announcement Tuesday on twitter a diagnosis that he makes more and more often: a defective Apple Watch.

“I’ve seen a lot of people coming into the ER to wait six hours after getting an alert from their watch over the past two or three months,” says Dr. marine

As an example, he cites a watch that would show blood oxygen saturation levels that were too low or a heartbeat that was too fast. “People get scared when they feel their heart rate isn’t right,” notes the doctor, trying to reassure them as much as possible.

When in doubt, it’s best to look out for possible symptoms or check your heart rate at the pharmacy before contacting the healthcare system, he notes.

Sleep is no exception

Smartwatches also provide information about the sleep cycle of their users. And here, too, these hints can cause problems.

“One has to criticize the reliability of these watches a little, which is modest,” says Dr. Milan Nigam, neurologist and somnologist at Sacré Coeur Hospital in Montreal. He, too, says he’s seeing more and more patients concerned about their smartwatch alerts. “As a sleep medicine doctor, I can only be happy that people are more interested in it. They want to gear up to know how to improve it, but that can have perverse effects. »

For example, he mentions a clock that would tell a person they haven’t slept enough, which can cause them to stay in bed longer even if they’re not sleeping. “But if you stretch the duration of sleep over a longer period of time, the sleep will be of lower quality,” he explains. In the long term, these cues can therefore lead to “harmful” behavior in some people.

This obsessive quest for perfect sleep even has a name: orthosomnia. “That’s what happens when we’re too busy and worried about our sleep,” he says, adding that smartwatch ads can become a source of anxiety.

His advice for people who think they have a sleep problem? Consult your doctor. “Technologies [des montres intelligentes] are not too bad to give an approximation of how long we sleep, but it remains modest compared to what we can do in a laboratory. »

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