New Consumer Tech Might Help Diagnose Sleep Disorders at Home
Sleep technology is a bit of a tangent for most enthusiasts; after all, how much can some silicon help you sleep at night? As far as digital electronics are concerned, there’s not much going to directly help you sleep better. We’re still not to the age of sleep lasers or dream customization—yet. What we are starting to see are sleep cycle monitors to help describe how well we are sleeping and convey that data directly to doctors.
In the past, to be diagnosed for sleep disorders properly, one had to admit themselves to a sleep research center. Scientists and lab techs would plug up all sorts of diagnostic gear to monitor for vitals and brain patterns. While effective in generating data and identifying major issues—the argument that such a divergence from normal sleep routine would, at least partially, invalid many results. Imagine walking into a strange place, with strange people, that puts off a laboratory vibe. Chances are you aren’t going to sleep like you’d normally sleep even if you didn’t have a sleep disorder!
Such is the struggle of sleep science—observation changes things.
Researchers have demonstrated that brain waves are different when we sleep away from our homes. In a sense, our minds devote roughly half their resources to “standing guard” for us while the rest of our bodies sleep. It’s like having a built-in sentry to give us a head’s up if something serious starts to go down. Historically, this was useful to help us address any lions, tigers, or bears that might be creeping into our caves. Today, we’ve got plenty of technology like alarm systems, door locks (even the front door counts!) and motion sensors. Overcoming the drive of evolutionary response is a large task—likely to leave one getting sub-par sleep when on the road.
Wearable tech has been a big hit in recent years. Gadgets like fitbits have been seen as dominating features of many major trade shows such as CES. Sales figures only serve to back up this perceived demand—everyone seems interested in quantifying their health suddenly.
Aside from knowing how many steps you take each day, sleep science engineers have developed consumer grade tech to help monitor shifts in sleep cycles throughout the night. Skipping some details—there are essentially 3 sleep cycles we go through each night, all of which are marked by a distinct pattern of neural activity. There is the initial light sleep phase, REM sleep, and NREM sleep (Deep Sleep). Additionally, these different cycles also progress in higher harmonics of themselves throughout the night which result in 4-5 ~90 minute cycles. This type of data has become so popular that many mattress companies have even started to bundle rudimentary sleep monitoring systems as promotional products. It might sound cheesy at first—but imagine how obscene that would have sounded just ten years ago!
Mattress brands have officially reached fever pitch in presence among consumer channels. No longer are buyers forced to rely on brick and mortar pricing—getting a better mattress is as easy as ordering something off Amazon now. Don’t believe me? Check out these mattress reviews to get a better idea of just how innovative these brands have gotten.