Sleep apps and behavioral constructs: A content analysis

Diana S. Grigsby-Toussaint, Jong Cheol Shin, Dayanna M. Reeves, Ariana Beattie, Evan Auguste, Girardin Jean-Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although sleep apps are among the most popular commercially available health apps, little is known about how well these apps are grounded in behavioral theory. Three-hundred and sixty-nine apps were initially identified using the term “sleep” from the Google play store and Apple iTunes in September 2015. The final sample consisted of 35 apps that met the following inclusion criteria: 1) Stand-alone functionality; 2) Sleep tracker or monitor apps ranked by 100 + users; 3) Sleep Alarm apps ranked by 1000 + users; and 4) English language. A coding instrument was developed to assess the presence of 19 theoretical constructs. All 35 apps were downloaded and coded. The inter-rater reliability between coders was 0.996. A “1” was assigned if a construct was present in the app and “0” if it was not. Mean scores were calculated across all apps, and comparisons were made between total scores and app ratings using R. The mean behavior construct scores (BCS) across all apps was 34% (5% - 84%). Behavioral constructs for realistic goal setting (86%), time management (77%), and self-monitoring (66%) were most common. Although a positive association was observed between BCS and user ratings, this was not found to be statistically significant (p > 0.05). The mean persuasive technology score was 42% (20% to 80%), with higher scores for paid compared to free apps (p < 0.05). While the overall behavior construct scores were low, an opportunity exists to develop or modify existing apps to support sustainable sleep hygiene practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-129
Number of pages4
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Apps
  • Health behavior
  • Mhealth
  • Mobile health
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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