NightWare is a prescription smartwatch app that helps veterans manage PTSD

NightWare is helping veterans manage PTSD-related nightmares.

Everyone experiences a nightmare on occasion. They are a normal part of sleep as the brain processes the events of the day in its own mysterious way. However, for some people, nightmares are more problematic.

Those with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are prone to recurrent nightmares that make it difficult to get rested. They can also damage a person’s mental health over time.

Now, there is a smartwatch app called NightWare that’s designed to help with PTSD-related nightmares. The app is approved by the FDA and can be prescribed by a physician.

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Prescription Tech

The idea of being prescribed an app might seem crazy. However, the FDA has now approved a few prescription technologies, including apps like NightWare and even video games for children with ADHD.

NightWare uses the biometric sensors found in the Apple Watch. It continuously monitor’s the wearer’s sleep patterns and then learns to identify abnormalities that occur when they are having a nightmare.

When an abnormality is detected, NightWare triggers the watch’s vibration feature to pull the person from their bad dream. Importantly, the vibration is designed to do so without waking them up. In doing so, it helps preserve their sleep quality while also addressing the recurrent nightmares.

The app was tested with a group of more than 70 veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD and nightmare disorder. A randomized controlled trial with the group found that NightWare has a positive impact on sleep quality.

Another benefit of the app is that it is a low-risk, high-reward intervention. If it doesn’t work for a certain user, they haven’t lost anything. This makes NightWare different than something like a medication that helps the person sleep more soundly. Since it doesn’t interfere with the body’s natural processes, NightWare can also be started and stopped easily without the need for tapering.

The team behind the unique app plans to conduct another study in 2021. It will consist of 240 patients and try to measure how effective NightWare is.

Grady Hannah, the company’s CEO, says, “Helping our current and past military members and all people with this condition [PTSD] is NightWare’s mission and we are excited to introduce this first and only therapeutic for nightmares.”

Band-Aid Fix

While NightWare looks like a promising intervention for people with PTSD-related nightmares, it isn’t a perfect solution. That’s because the app is a Band-Aid fix. In other words, it temporarily helps but doesn’t address the root cause of the problem.

Of course, the goal of NightWare isn’t to treat PTSD on its own. The team notes that it is designed to be used in conjunction with other treatments. This includes things like imagery rehearsal therapy, which involves rehearsing non-frightening endings to dreams during the day with the help of a professional.

In this way, NightWare is a great tool. It can help those struggling with PTSD manage their nightmares and preserve their sleep quality while they address the cause behind them.

The app is currently available with a physician’s prescription on a limited basis. It will launch on a wider scale in the early months of 2021.


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