Sleep in the Digital AgeHarry Coulter | 03 Oct 2018
The importance of a good night’s sleep is not to be underestimated. In today’s fast-paced digital society where we are bombarded with emails, messages and information 24-hours a day, the importance of sleep becomes far more noticeable. The therapeutic benefits of sleep have been known for millennia, from immune support to anti-aging, reducing stress levels to increasing energy, growth development and the proper functioning, almost all of the body’s regulatory systems rely on sleep in some way or another.
In a strange twist of fate, it seems that the cause of our sleep issue, now becomes the way forward to fixing the problem. Technology it seems has become the main resource for fixing the problem it created in the first place. It makes sense though, in the same way as online casino players can monitor their gambling behaviour more accurately compared to those who gamble at a land-based casino, tech can help us restore good sleeping patterns.
The Rise of Sleep-Tech
The science of sleep and the arrival of sleep technology has exploded over the last few years. In 2017, we saw the first dedicated exhibition area devoted to sleep-tech at the consumer electronics show. This year the number of sleep-aid technologies showcased as CES has grown exponentially. We are not just talking apps here, we are talking physical electronic devices designed to aid sleep based on scientific research.
Most people who have had issues sleeping have tried out sleep-based apps on their phone. This includes apps that monitor your heart rate and only wake you up at a specific times, to those that play gentle music during the morning or increase the lighting at stepped intervals. While effective for some, the need for dedicated sleep devices has grown to such a point that entire teams of scientists have been fervently at work creating the most advanced sleep-tech imaginable.
One example is the Philips SmartSleep. Making its debut last year, the SmartSleep is a wearable headband that is designed to monitor your brain actively when you sleep. Using a complicated biofeedback system, the headband basically senses when you have entered a deep sleep. Then using bon-conduction speakers, which are silent to your partner, it generates customised sleep-aiding audio tones to enhance the depth and duration of deep sleep.
Another major tech product that debuted this year is the Somnox, otherwise known as the world’s first sleep robot. Resembling a bean-shaped fabric pillow, the Somnox is an advanced sleep teddy bear that users hug at night. The idea is to use breathing regulation, affection and soothing audio to send you off to sleep. The device emits sounds and movements to simulate physical contact, which has a psychosocial relaxing effect and helps to produce natural hormones like oxytocin. The pillow then uses CO2 sensors and body movement detection to determine when you have fallen asleep at which point it shuts off.
While some believe technology should be kept out of the bedroom, it seems the future is moving towards tech-based sleep assistance. Consider the Nokia Sleep. This is Nokia’s first dedicated sleep monitoring product. Essentially the Nokia Sleep is a Wi-Fi connected sleep sensor that fits snugly under your mattress. It then tracks your sleep stages and other biometrics and gives you a detailed breakdown, which can then integrate into your smartphone. This info can then be used to customise your sleep or wake activities such as turning on or off the thermostat or dimming the lights.
The Future of Sleep Technology
Whatever our feelings on tech in the bedroom, it seems sleep technology is here to stay. The future of sleep-tech can already be seen with companies like Sleepace, which uses a 3-stage system to create the perfect night’s sleep. This includes a sleep sensor, the cloud that stores and analyses your data and integrated home products, which can then be used to enhance sleep patterns.