Sleep Tech for Back to School!
Newer technology may begin to transform how we sleep. With unique perspectives and differing approaches, scientists and researchers are revolutionizing the bed, bedroom, and the person who sleeps.
It is impossible to count how many sleep-related apps exist for smartphones. Many use movement to track sleep and wakefulness. This information may be used to synchronize a morning alarm. There are apps to teach relaxation techniques and to play soothing sounds. Some give sleep advice. Many coordinate with wearable technology and other devices.
Wearables and Fitness Trackers
Wristbands and smartwatches come from familiar companies: Fitbit, Nike, Apple, and more. Initially promoted as enhanced step counters, they now incorporate movement data as well as heart rate and even blood oxygen measurement to estimate sleep states. Guidance may be offered for changes to improve sleep.
Smart Beds and Mattresses
As part of the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT), the bed has become a source of data. Newer options may record the same information that would be captured by a wearable, either with a pad or integrated into the mattress itself The bed may be able to raise the head to alleviate snoring (like via the Smart Nora) or reduce the risk of sleep apnea. Temperature regulation may also be possible, alleviating insomnia symptoms.
External Bedside Monitoring
External monitoring devices are meant to be placed on the nightstand. These survey the sleep environment, collecting information about sleep and potentially extending interventions. One of the most high profile options is the SleepScore Max.
Targeting Environmental Changes to Enhance Sleep:
Most people sleep better in a dark environment. Black-out curtains work well during the night, but unless someone opens them in the morning, it may be harder to wake when you need to. What if technology could help to enhance exposure to the natural pattern of light and darkness? The shades could be opened as morning approaches. It may be possible to slowly increase light similar to a sunrise. Whether enhancing exposure to natural light or providing the substitute of an artificial source, optimized timing of exposure to light may improve sleep.
It is clear that external noise can be disruptive to sleep. White noise machines may help to blot out these disturbances. It may also be helpful to produce relaxing sounds, either mimicking natural ones or simply canceling out noise that is bothersome.
A cool environment is ideal for sleeping. Our body temperature drops overnight, dovetailing with the natural changes that occur in the environment. Some technology even attempts to cool the brain to enhance sleep, such as the Ebb sleep device.
Newer technology may also be able to alter the humidity of the sleep environment. This could make it easier to breathe overnight, making it easier to manage allergies, snoring, and sleep apnea.