IBM and the American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) have announced a SleepHealth app for iPhone and Apple Watch to the US market.

A patient-driven SleepHealth mobile study was launched in conjunction with the app’s announcement, with the goal of identifying connections between sleep habits and health outcomes.

The study uses the open source ResearchKit framework designed by Apple to enable participants to easily complete tasks and submit surveys from the SleepHealth app itself.

This initiative also marks the first ResearchKit study to run on IBM’s Watson health cloud.

The SleepHealth app makes use of a number of the Apple Watch’s sensors, including the accelerometer and the gyroscope, to measure and record movements during sleep. It also uses the built-in heart rate monitor to detect the onset of sleep.

In another first, the SleepHealth app will also be the first ResearchKit app to leverage Apple’s new Night Shift feature that reduces light exposure before sleep. This feature is set to be available as part of iOS 9.3, due for release later this month.

Users of the app will have the opportunity to shape the study by contributing ideas for research topics, survey questions, engagement activities and messaging.

The data contributed by participants will be stored on the Watson health cloud, allowing researchers to conduct extensive analysis to uncover data patterns and connections.

Researchers will also have the opportunity to apply Watson Analytics for deeper insights from the data.

“We’ve made life the laboratory for this study by crowd-sourcing data and input to achieve an unprecedented understanding of sleep in a non-invasive manner,” said Carl Stepnowsky, PhD, the principal investigator for the study, and ASAA’s chief science officer.

“With ResearchKit and Watson Health Cloud, this new app will help us build the world’s largest longitudinal study to collect data on both healthy and unhealthy sleepers that can be published as an open study and shared with other researchers.”

The SleepHealth app is only available to US customers at the time of writing, but there are plans for global expansion in the near future.

Those who wish to participate in the study must be at least 18 years of age and understand English. The app also includes a process to ensure informed consent for the user’s participation in the study.