The Department of Veterans Affairs is testing a new Apple watch app designed to ease combat-related nightmares for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) sufferers.

Minneapolis VA Medical Center is spearheading testing for the app, which was developed by an area college student. The app, NightWare, was designed by a 21-year-old college student named Tyler Skluzacek.

The student learned about PTSD from his father’s struggles following a deployment in 2006.

“He just hit absolute rock bottom,” Skluzacek told the Star Tribune in 2015. “He was just depressed and angry and every emotion you can think of that has nothing to do with happy.”

RELATED: VA Gets App To Load Veterans Medical Records

The app loads onto the Apple watch and tracks the pulse rates and biometric readings of wearers when sleeping. During a nightmare, the app detects unique biometric signals and then buzzes lightly. The buzz does not fully wake the sleeper but it rouses them enough to disrupt the nightmare.

Grady Hannah, chief executive of NightWare, the company developing the app, made the decision to develop the app as a medical device. The FDA decided the app would require research and testing prior to approval, but if successful, the app may be eligible for insurance coverage.

“There have been lots of companies that have tried to create consumer treatments that never made it, because marketing direct to consumers takes a lot of money,” Hannah said. “And you can’t make any medical claims” without research and federal approval to back them up.

That is where Minneapolis VA is standing in the gap.

By facilitating the testing process, the medical facility will help NightWare conduct the required testing necessary for approval.

Combat veteran Justin Miller tried the app. Miller reported a significant reduction in the impact of his nightmares, fatigue, and use of antidepressants.

“Once I started sleeping, it’s amazing how much the rest of my life changed,” he said. “I have more patience with people. I am able to keep my cool, most of the time.

“I didn’t know [sleep] was possible for me anymore. It hadn’t happened in 12 to 13 years.”

I know a lot of readers here may be eligible for using an app like this to deal with nightmares.

What is your experience so far using technology to improve your overall health care? What about mental health issues like PTSD?

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42 Comments

  1. How can I be part of the test? I have an Apple Watch to monitor my sleep, but this could be helpful.

  2. My experience to this point using a very limited amount of technology to improve my overall health has been mostly a positive one. A few small bumps in the road, but they have been minor.

    I have begun using within the last month, a CPAP machine for my Sleep Apnea. It has an app that I have installed on my phone which provides me with valuable insights as to my patterns.

    Amazing how refreshed I feel when I awaken at 03:50 – 04:00 after had six good hours of sleep. Not as tired and draggy throughout the day anymore, as I had been for the past twenty some odd years. Call that specific issue a 50% improvement.

    I use an app to track my calorie intake/expenditure. The benefits of being able to ‘see’ my body’s caloric account balance helps to ensure that I will never become obese again I struggled with my weight for years. No more! Nothing is ingested orally without being logged.

    I LOVE all the ‘tech toys’ at the gym. Keeps me in good physical condition for an old guy. Strength Resistance and Cardio workouts are wonderful.

    Thanks to the changes I have made in my life with the help of a very limited amount of technology – – – I have been able to wean myself off all but one prescription medication. That is an anti-seizure med and may be discontinued within the next year or so.

    I still have frequent nightmares from my combat related PTSD. I would love to be able to try out that app, but alas I do not wear an Apple Watch. Any idea if the developers plan to port it to Android?

    • Lucky you. I have so many issues with my body that keeps me from sleeping, exercising and living a normal life. Were it not for what it would do to my wife which is the best thing in my life, I would join the 20 vets a day

      • I have my own issues as well. And while still living in Honolulu, I made more than three attempts to join the ’22 a day club’. Then I found this blog, and started reading fairly frequently.

        After Dennis mentioned that an Oregon newspaper had done an article on his trials and tribulations with the Roseburg VA – – – I was inspired. Three things occurred to me:

        1. If Dennis could find it within himself to lose his excess weight, so could I.
        2. At the rate I was going, my body would ‘rust out’ before I would ever have a chance to ‘wear it out’
        3. The VA in Hawaii was not going to help other than by giving me a lecture about my declining health. If anything were going to be done about it, it was up to me and only me – – – to get it done. And my clock was rapidly running out.

        So I took advantage of a ‘join for a buck’ offer from Planet Fitness. My first time on the treadmill – – – I did a distance of two miles. Took an hour. And I could barely walk the five blocks home ’cause I was so f*n winded. But I determined not to give up. So I kept going back.

        Fast Forward one year (counting the three months that I did not go, due to moving from Hawaii to Texas) and I have now lost over 65 pounds. When I got off the treadmill yesterday (Incline level 15 – – – pretty steep hill) after two hours, I had done 8 miles uphill. Not even breathing hard. Took a ten minute break, then went and climbed 200 flights of stairs on the machine.

        This afternoon will be weights.

        Yes, I am lucky. I was able to save myself, while I still had the time and mobility to get started. And it is still day by day progress. But things are much easier now than they were a year ago.

        Put it this way: When I left high school to join the Marines – – – I stood 5 feet 6. Weighed 135 pounds. 17 years of age.

        On April 8, 2020 – – – I should stand 5 feet 5. Weigh 135 pounds. Two months shy of my 65th birthday.

        Life. I’m going for it . . .

      • Whoops! A mistake in the context of my posting.

        “After Dennis mentioned that an Oregon newspaper had done an article on his trials and tribulations with the Roseburg VA – – – I was inspired. Three things occurred to me:”

        Should have read:

        After Dennis mentioned that an Oregon newspaper had done an article on his trials and tribulations with the Roseburg VA – – – I was inspired. So I searched out, then read the entire story. Three things occurred to me:

        The rest of the post is fine. Sorry for error. Neuropathic pain AWFUL today.

        Namaste.

    • Jim, I absolutely love what you have done to help yourself. I hope the app helps you if it is made for the Android. Ultimately, I hope the app can help all veterans to reduce the nightmares and symptoms.

      • Thank You.

        I think that technology can offer a lot of ways to help us – – – BUT – – – it MUST be used in a wise and responsible manner. Unfortunately, that is where many Americans err. They get too sucked into it.

        First rule of wise usage? It works for me, I don’t work for it. Which is why I do not do Farcebook, etc. Social Networking? Ha! My ‘Social Networking’ is usually done face to face while playing a board or card game. Speedchess in the park is a good way to get to know how a person thinks.

  3. “Physiological effects have been observed in a human subject in response to stimulation of the skin with weak electromagnetic fields that are pulsed with certain frequencies near ½ Hz or 2.4 Hz, such as to excite a sensory resonance. Many computer monitors and TV tubes, when displaying pulsed images, emit pulsed electromagnetic fields of sufficient amplitudes to cause such excitation. It is therefore possible to manipulate the nervous system of a subject by pulsing images displayed on a nearby computer monitor or TV set. For the latter, the image pulsing may be imbedded in the program material, or it may be overlaid by modulating a video stream, either as an RF signal or as a video signal. The image displayed on a computer monitor may be pulsed effectively by a simple computer program. For certain monitors, pulsed electromagnetic fields capable of exciting sensory resonances in nearby subjects may be generated even as the displayed images are pulsed with subliminal intensity.”

    “https://www.collective-evolution.com/2018/02/22/us-patent-6506148-b2-confirms-human-nervous-system-manipulation-through-your-computer-tv/?fbclid=IwAR39AVLkuQ-kqykrE3jIqE0G6m0e0VfMlGF0Q3Bh1Adn-HvdcHmBjD9gNtw”

    • Yes and 40cps flicker rates on smart phones are captivating especially to children. 13cps can induce seizures in epileptics. 388MHZ has been developed as weapons potential to fry brain cells and cause COMPLETE mental breakdown. Watch out for 5G as this is like putting the microwave oven to your head. Incidentally , the earth has a natural wobble rate of about 8cps which corresponds to delta sleep rhythms in humans and other species.

      Brave new world straight ahead and we are all getting fried by some part of it….Don’t you just love what all this shite is about?

      • Theta man …Your soooo right.
        Another way to combat the Blue Light and Flicker is use a regular old fashioned light bulb shining on your screen, Day or Night.

      • sunvale …See if you can look it up this way.

        US Patent 6506148 B2 Confirms Human Nervous System Manipulation Through Your Computer & TV – Collective Evolution

  4. I can’t wear watches because I somehow kill them except basic wind-up Timex watches, plus, I can’t sleep with anything on wrists, so a no-go for me.

    However, I see this paying out for all the AFGE minions at VA that will likely all be getting brand new App,e Watches….all for theVets….

    • Hey, Nam
      Here we go again. A “student” did this. Meaning – veterans were/are again “guinea pigs”!
      When are veterans going to stop being used as guinea pigs?

      I don’t trust the VA! Been screwed too many times!

      • I don’t trust them either – – – but you never know. The research will continue, that’s for sure.

        Seems to me that I remember a time when folks pretty much saw anti-biotics and anti-virals as something ever so slightly to the left of witchcraft.

        And how many of us have those two classes of drugs helped?

        Give it time. Hell, I’d try it. Nothing to lose. Everything to gain.

      • One point Jim and Crazy Elf is this apple watch app is non-invasive. Campare it to FDA Black Box Listed Medications and all that other crap. Yes, a bunch of damn chemicals.
        Here are more aspects that come into play with mental health. Folks,
        Sulfites, Sulfur Dioxide, formaldehyde, Mercury, pesticides, fungicides, and the list goes on. Even look at China, their farmers do not even have fresh water to farm with. Unsanitary. My point of bringing this up is yes many times mental health issues surface usually from the environment that has surrounded them. Yes, some can be born with some mental health issues. In my opinion though, many times people go off the rails due to terrifying events or traumatic happenings that they have encountered. The effected individuals react to whomever or whatever has affected them. When I say they react, it is how the person’s psyche took in the stimuli from the traumatic experiences. My point is my situation was mostly caused by what idiots did to me. Boils down to how the psyche reacted to the happenings. The happenings at that time negatively impacted me greatly. Folks, the chemicals in all these foods even can keep people sick. Yes. Even if one has eliminated the Medications. And, yes, these chemicals can add to mental health issues. Yes and yes. So research the labels and what countries all these products are coming from. Government hides everything. Yes, there is agricultural research going on in this country with the Agricultural Research Services where they are looking at multiple genes instead of single genes in the crops.
        Yes, back in December 2018, I physically spoke with researchers at a University of Georgia Experiment Station where they are actually trying to develop, innovate, and grow the crops to become more resistant to the environment which would ultimately reduce the pesticides and fungicides that have to be put on the crops for for them to survive. If one looks at the results here, less crap means healthier and more nutritional foods. End results-less deaths, less life threatening illnesses, less Medical costs, less mental health issues, and longer life spans. Healthier population means more people working and less government dependence. This current government would absolutely lose it. The VA would lose their purpose. VA would go insane. Oops, we would have Veterans living meaningful lives and healthier lives in recovery. The VA is not sure how effective the Apple Watch App will be; but, it is worth a shot. May not work or it may prove to be very helpful. At least it is not invasive as all these damn chemicals. Chemicals going into the bodies that contribute to even more health problems than initially diagnosed with at the start of the med prescribing. One more point everyone, remember, the situation regarding Cuba when we had to bring our ambassadors and state department officials back to the United States due to them getting sick. Mental functions regression. The situation had to do with electromagnetic waves at a certain high pitch and frequency that was causing them to get sick. I remember the happenings; but, would have to chase down the details again to fully validate my comments here. Occurred in 2018…
        Yes, the Apple Watch App is not invasive like medications and surgeries; but, the electromagnetic impulses or whatever the type signal that will be emitting from the Apple Watch App maybe invasive to the brain similar to what I was describing with what happened to our state department officials while in Cuba. So the Apple Watch App could be beneficial or it could be used to harm veterans. Who knows? Government is rarely looking out for anyone but themselves. President Trump is trying his best along with a few Republicans. Attorney William Barr is honoring the law. Basically, only maybe a handful of officials in the government seem to be trying to honor and carry out what is helpful to the American citizens and this country. Best.

      • Angela,

        I strongly agree with most of your posting.

        As my Grandmother told me shortly before joining the military, “You are what you eat. Your experiences over the next few years could shape the remainder of your life’s thinking. Don’t become a prisoner of them.”

        How wise those words were! Too bad that although I heard her at the time, I did not realize what she was really saying to me. So of course, I fell victim to becoming a prisoner of the sum total of my military experiences when I was discharged after 17 years, 9 months, 7 days of active duty service in October 1993 for having seizures that were a direct result of a head trauma that I sustained onboard the USS Leftwich while operating in the mine fields off Kuwait during the Gulf War.

        Then when I went to the VA in Honolulu, the real ‘fun’ began. I have had better care from ‘third-world’ doctors, nurses, and Nuns from Convents in a foreign country – – – than I received in the Honolulu VA or Pacific Islands Healthcare System (VISN 21).
        Firstly, the VA began recouping the Disability Severance Pay that the military gave me on my way out the door. Real world effect? I am repaying a loan to the Federal government, and I have zero retirement benefits.

        Secondly, the Honolulu VA was just NOT equipped to deal with veterans at all in the area of PTSD. Especially in the 1990’s.

        Last fall, after a few bouts with homelessness – – – a very fortunate break came my way, and I managed to escape Hawaii. I miss friends that I made over there, but I do not miss living in Hawaii. It is a beautiful place, but Oahu is getting quite overcrowded. Add to that an extremely high cost of living ($6.25 average for one gallon of milk) because 96% of all items must be shipped in.

        While Texas is not perfect, it is way better for me than Hawaii was. And just like Hawaii, there is a lot of multi-culturalism here, which I truly enjoy.

        You know I will not hold back from railing against the VA when warranted. To this point. The ‘Texas VA’ has gotten more done for me in the last seven months, than the ‘Hawaii VA’ did in twenty-plus years.

        Big difference! We all know that (nationally speaking) the system is irretrievably broken. Mostly (as many others have noted) the VA is ‘Hit or Miss’. To this point in time, the ‘Texas VA’ is a hit. Don’t know how long that will last, but after the ‘Honolulu VA experience’ – – – it is a welcome respite.

  5. I can’t wear anything when sleeping. This includes cpac machines, watches and most jewelry (except for my wedding ring)! Therefore, it won’t help me –

  6. Do you really think a STUDENT invented it, I call it Bullshit, They always come out with a sad story so people believe it.
    Just more manipulation of the Mind

  7. Great! Finally we have treatment. Who would have thought that a mere watch could solve all of our post traumatic problems. We’re saved. Now we can have those who do not fight start more wars based on lies, but because we have a watch no worries.
    Perhaps s better solution would be that our so called leaders do not start pointless wars and that the veterans who come alive do not face a murderous veterans administration who is more dangerous than the enemy as evidenced by 600 veterans who took their own lives this month out of desperation. A number that is 3 times the kill rate during the Vietnam war.

    • I would think that EVERY war veteran should be able to agree with the ‘better solution’ that you propose, Christopher.

      “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
      — Dwight D. Eisenhower —

  8. PTSD and traumatic brain and sleep without help. Did not exist for me. Denied treatment for over forty years.

    Was forced to self medicate to sleep. Alcohol. Worse thing ever. Now that I am able to seek treatment.

    They finally gave me medical to sleep. 1st time in forty years was i able to sleep with out having to use alcohol.

    Sober ever since. The watch is not going to help people sleep. PTSD and traumatic brain sleeping without help, will not change in my experience.

  9. Having any part of your medical records available online is probably not going to turnout good

  10. Google the title to read the full article!

    From: “military.com”
    Titled:
    “New legislation would recognize nine more diseases caused by Agent Orange”

    By NIKKI WENTLING | STARS AND STRIPES
    Published: April 17, 2019

    WASHINGTON — A group of lawmakers introduced legislation that would add nine more diseases to a list of conditions presumed to be caused by the chemical herbicide Agent Orange, giving veterans who suffer from them a fast-track to Department of Veterans Affairs disability compensation and health care.

    The Keeping Our Promises Act, introduced last week, adds prostate cancer, bladder cancer, hypothyroidism, hypertension, stroke, early-onset peripheral neuropathy, AL amyoloidosis, ischemic heart disease and Parkinson-like syndromes to a list of diseases presumed to be caused by Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War.

    Researchers with the National Academy of Medicine released findings in November that there was “suggestive” evidence that eight of the diseases could be caused by Agent Orange. For hypertension, researchers found that “sufficient” evidence exists.

    “American heroes affected by Agent Orange deserve the peace of mind knowing that the federal government recognizes the existing link between

  11. I can’t see where wearing a watch is going to make any difference whether you sleep. Just some gizmo that someone decided to ‘invent’ in order to make a bunch of money.

  12. Manatee watches like Veteran watches will have GPS location Tech built in- the VA moguls will know how much time people spend in the break rooms, the toilet , and the parking lot drinking whiskey in the early morning. Then their cometh the listening device feature… of course you will be able to hold it to your butt and fart into it.

  13. What the student and the VA have to understand is this is NOT going to work for everyone, and there is a good chance that it wont work for the majority. When you are having nightmares from PTSD, you will attack anyone or anything you feel is a threat, that includes your bedmates. And if you are in the throes of a nightmare, a little “buzzing” from a stupid watch is NOT going to help and in fact may hurt more then help. And lets not forget the heavy sleepers or the people that just drop off from exhaustion. My brother (God rest his soul) could NOT deal with a buzzing alarm clock after he got back from Nam. He said the damn thing always reminded him of bullets whizzing past his head and he had enough of that in Nam and didnt need to have it or be reminded about it here at home. Now how is this going to help any other brother in cammo/OD Green if they are in the same boat as my brother was? Or if they are upset about something before they go to bed, how is a damn watch going to tell the difference? Scrap heap this and start over VA, the chances of this working are less then 30%

  14. Should be real interesting to see how this works out. I hope that it does. Would be a major step towards ‘draining the swamp’ . . .

    “https://townhall.com/tipsheet/bethbaumann/2019/05/31/say-what-aoc-and-ted-cruz-agree-on-this-policy-aimed-at-draining-the-swamp-n2547153”

  15. Any research or development effort that creates movement on combat-related PTSD is a good thing. Will the VA try and abuse it? Of course. Is that a reason not to make the effort…no.

    Technological advances have helped me with my breathing (BPAP machine, nebuliser, improved Rx), my head pain from TBI (some weird little vibrating dingus), and with monitoring much else.

    I expect there will be issues, like cost, for one. But the VA has actually made an effort to perform its actual core mission, so I want to give them props for that, instead of criticising them even when they are doing it right.

  16. Jokes. Jokes. jokes! Everybody’s has jokes!

    Have to use them to try and keep the small amount of sanity I have remaining!

    Hey, “Look mom”! I’m A 17 year vet of : “Stool Pigeon” operations! Meeeerrr, Meeeerrr, Meeerrr, meeerrr, merrr, merrrr!

    They would only let me get so far, before hazing me with pro, and Anti war slogans! Don’t re-up! Good, You will not be successful!

    Cant escape the madness, Good! No worries, as I’m sure with this new Parole device strapped to your A** it will be easier to Monitor, Haze, and use “Mobbing” like tactics!

    Look, now to save the day I can magically fall, and stay asleep better! Wow, geee golly thanks Battle! It’s a PERMINANT GPS/ Ankle monitor strapped to my A**! #NOMORE4THAMENDMENT! “Winning! Nooooo!”

    Only instead of getting a simple Green light; “Go” status, I now have A PERMINANT; Red Light/ VA “Deny, Deny, Hope that I dye” Ankle “No Go” Status PERMINANTLY strapped to my A**! Woooo, hoooo!

    “Dont thank me, thank your recruiter!”

    oh, and don’t forget to read the local VA posters: “VA is magically heal able!”

    Thanks to the new VA Ankle monitor strapped to my A**! Have A happy summer! Good luck swimming with your new and only friend strapped to your Errrrrtttttt! Merrr, Merrr, Merrr, Merrrr, Merrrr, Merrrrr! Said the Blue, blue d, blue, Blue forty two, set, set! Hut- Falcon!

    Nothing Else Follows!
    ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

    Dont want to win A war! Too Easy! Hey, at least stock options are up for the investors who haven’t lost everything!

    “You too can be Americas finest!”

    D*** Move Out!

  17. Denied TBI That Is actually in my medical Record! Oh, but thank goodness the VA came up with A solution to stop all of the Blue falcon Operations!

    A “”Dumb”- Watch””! Thanks VA! Thanks! The Honor that came too late!

    You too can dishonor the Honorable. Just get A job at your local VA!

  18. As far as the idea that requesting and using an electronic device like the Apple Watch (or whatever) is somehow the VA forcing you to wear an ankle bracelet…huh?

    Apple Watches, Android and iPhone cellular phones, most motor vehicles, and a great many other devices provide data on the general physical location of the device. And if we’re going to get freaked out about “the government” knowing where we are, worrying about a device that might help some of us sleep without attacking our spouses or having our service dog constantly nudging us awake, seems like a stretch—like maybe some people want to see Bad Guys in every storefront.

    To be blunt, if the US Government wants to know where you are—skipping the absurdity of the concept of a unified government able to focus discrete resources on relatively innocuous individuals, and the glaring question of why any of us would be worth such expenditures—they will.

    I agree the potential exists to abuse the data in our phones or on our other devices, and I agree that their are small, mean, petty tyrants at local and state levels who would try and get at private data to use it against individual veterans—though these tinpot tyrants are counting on the disinterest of the larger VA in any individual veteran to shield them from scrutiny. And I do think there would be real privacy issues that need to be addressed.

    But I feel pretty strongly that anything that can help Veterans is the VA’s core mission, and that when the VA accidentally does perform its core mission, we should support it—albeit cautiously, given the history of local-regional-state abuses ignored or enabled by the larger VA.

    And as for your records being online….they already are. The VA is singularly bad at sharing out your medical records, but they are quite good at gathering in records from outside the VA, even without your permission—they use the “Insurance and Billing” dodge to avoid the toothless HIPPA stuff.

    I’m much more concerned that the larger VA will squash the initiative out of fear of spending money, which will impact their ass-backwards bonus plans.

    Or they will roll it out, but restrict to to one group of veterans, like they do with most things to keep is divided—despite my wife easily qualifying as my caretaker, she “cannot be accepted” because “until the new IS system comes online” the VA is “only allowing care takers for veterans who served post 09/11”. That way, advocates like Ben Krause aren’t motivated to shake the tree, and the most needful populations are excluded—it’s a win-win for the budget-bonus game.

    But the core idea and the initiative shown are both what I want the VA to do, instead of spending its time figuring out how to get around laws directing them to compensate Veterans—what’s the mantra? Deny, Delay, Die? Absolutely.

  19. @Steven – – – Could not agree more. And that IS the biggest game the VA plays, keeping Veterans divided by ‘war generations’ and most of the veterans I see seem all to happy to support that nonsense. I do not buy it for a second. And I wish more veterans would wake up to what is happening.

    But you can bet your bottom dollar the VA upper echelon management is well aware of how to play this divide and conquer policy to best effect.

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