Activity Tracker for Sleep Habits in Menopause?

October 20, 2014

When evaluating vasomotor symptoms in menopause, including sleep-wake cycles, have you ever considered the utility of an activity tracker?

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"28640","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_9887824591714","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"2924","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"line-height: 1.538em; height: 180px; width: 180px; float: right;","title":"","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]At the 25th Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society held last week in Washington, DC, there was a Q&A after a pre-meeting symposium on hot flashes. In that Q&A, an OB/GYN from the audience mentioned that one of her patients reports data on nighttime wakefulness based on her Fitbit readings. These types of activity trackers can be useful for women (or anyone) who want to better understand their fitness level, and many people invest in these trackers when they have reached a plateau in their weight loss efforts. (In fact, even Weight Watchers offers such a device, called ActiveLink.) 

Most of these activity trackers work by first determining a person's baseline activity level, and then any activity above the baselines is where calorie deficits for weight loss can occur. Oftentimes, people who use these trackers learn that they are overestimating calories burned, allowing people who want to lose weight to make adjustments to either their caloric intake or their activity level.

An additional benefit of these types of trackers is that they also help people understand their sleep cycles. Women who think they are spending enough hours sleeping yet wake up tired every morning may not realize how restless they are at night. Others might recall waking up 3 times during the night, but data from the activity tracker is saying that it was really 6 times. And while none of these activity trackers are perfect, the data they provide can go a long way in helping patients-and possibly clinicians-better understand how sleep, or lack of it, is affecting their health and quality of life.

Have you had patients report wakefulness related to hot flashes based on an activity tracker? What do you think about using such devices for diary data when evaluating vasomotor syndrome severity?

(We welcome your thoughts in the Comment section below.)