• The Apple Watch has a new app designed to help users get better sleep
  • The app is called NightWare and is designed to help those with PTSD sleep better
  • It is FDA-approved and is only available by prescription

Apple's NightWare is a new app clinically designed to help those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) get a restful sleep every night.

The app works with the Apple Watch and the iPhone to detect if a user is currently having a PTSD-related nightmare and will interrupt it before it completely disrupts the person’s sleep. This has been approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to a press release on its website.

How it works

NightWare works by monitoring a user’s heart rate and movements during sleep. When the app detects signs indicating nightmare-induced stress, it will then cause the Apple Watch to gently vibrate in order to rouse the user and interrupt the bad dream.

The app will start with gentle vibrations, slowly increasing in intensity until it gets the desired effect. The vibrations are not strong enough to awaken the user from sleep.

NightWare features AI that learns the user’s sleeping patterns so that it can better predict future episodes, per its developers. The data can be uploaded to a secure server for monitoring by approved healthcare providers, so they can help the user work toward better overall health.

The app adapts to the user’s sleeping patterns, making for a more personalized approach to nightmare prevention. It also means people can’t borrow a user’s Apple Watch to use the app and expect to see the same results.

Apple Watch Nightware
The new Nightware app for Apple Watch Nightware

Is this approved?

The FDA permitted the marketing of the app after it was found to be effective in helping those suffering from PTSD get better sleep.

The app was tested via a 30-day study involving 70 participants. The patients were divided into two groups, one using the new app in the Apple Watch. The results showed the app was effective in improving the patients’ sleep quality.

“Sleep is an essential part of a person’s daily routine. However, certain adults who have a nightmare disorder or who experience nightmares from PTSD are not able to get the rest they need,” Carlos Peña, director of the Office of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in the FDA press release.

“Today’s authorization offers a new, low-risk treatment option that uses digital technology in an effort to provide temporary relief from sleep disturbance related to nightmares,” he added.

NightWare, however, isn’t for everyone. It is only available by prescription and is not meant to be used as a standalone treatment for PTSD. It will also require the use of a dedicated Apple Watch as it will be used for the entire duration of a user’s sleep time.