An app that gives you frequent flyer points for not looking at it?
That’s the thinking behind a new addition to the Qantas Wellbeing app that the airline says is an airline first.
The “Sleep Health Challenge” is designed to promote healthy sleep by incentivizing people to limit screen time before nodding off and then not touching their phone or tablet before waking the next morning.
It lets Qantas Frequent Flyer members earn points for developing regular sleep habits and better understand healthy sleep practices.
Experts advise people not to take their mobile phones to bed with them because of the possible disruptive effect on sleep.
The Sleep Health Foundation estimates four out of 10 Australian adults don’t get enough sleep, potentially affecting their learning and decision making as well as increasing the risk of mental and physical illness.
“Blue light from phone and computer screens at night can disrupt the production of melatonin – an important sleep hormone that regulates our internal body clock (and) lets us know when it’s time to sleep and helps us have good quality sleep,” foundation sleep scientist Gemma Peach said.
“Not only this, but looking at a phone before bed and during the night can be stimulating and may evoke an emotional response, making us more alert when we should be asleep, resulting in fragmented sleep across the night.”
The Wellbeing app prompts people to put down their phone 30 minutes before they go to bed and leave it there. The app will award them Qantas points in the morning.
Its also encourages users to track and review how they feel upon waking to see how better sleep practices affect their mood.
At first glance, the points payoff isn’t huge: five points per night for the first month and reducing after that for to 0.5 points per night for frequent flyers who are not also Qantas Insurance policyholders.
An additional 20 points are available for taking in a 10-question guide to learning more about maximizing your sleep drive, how diet and exercise affect sleep and understanding your body clock.
The app already allows frequent flyers to earn points by walking, cycling or swimming or by understanding more about their body mass index and blood pressure.
Qantas estimates that frequent flyers who take advantage of all the app’s features can earn up to 3, 406 points per year while policyholders can earn up to 20,000 points annually.
Qantas Loyalty chief executive Olivia Wirth said Qantas Frequent Flyer was the first airline loyalty program to offer points for something as simple as sleep.
“The Qantas Wellbeing app has been downloaded over 400,000 times and uses Qantas Points to inspire hundreds of thousands of members to lead more active lifestyles,” she said. “We hope to see the same impact for adopting healthier sleep practices.”
So what happens to the data the app collects?
Qantas says the data is not shared with third parties, including the underwriter of its health insurance scheme, nib.
“The data collected from the Qantas Wellbeing app on members’ activity and sleep habits is only used to award Qantas Points,” a Qantas spokeswoman said.