Regardless of who you are, what walk of life you come from, how “successful” you are in your career, who you know, or how healthy you are, sleep is something you need. In fact, roughly one-third of the average person’s life will be spent sleeping.
With so many sleep issues and conditions out there, it makes sense that entrepreneurs, technologists, and innovators contribute a large portion of their time, money, and energy towards developing sleep-centric technology that makes snoozing more comfortable and restorative.
Be Aware of These 3 Technological Innovations
It might seem boring and wasteful when viewed out of context, but sleep plays a vital role in our mental and physical well-being. From the integrity of the immune system to brain development, sleep has a direct impact on nearly every aspect of our lives.
As Mariette DiChristina writes for Scientific American, “Losing a few hours of shut-eye depresses various functions, reducing our cognitive and memory powers, souring our mood, even reducing our body’s ability to defend against infections. If we did not snooze at all, eventually we would die.”
That may seem dramatic, but it’s true – which is why it’s encouraging to know that there’s a considerable amount of technological innovation happening in the sleep industry.
As we start out 2018, here are three areas of sleep technology you should know about:
1. Advances in Surgical Treatments
Over the past couple of years, significant strides have been made in surgical treatments used to address the underlying cause of sleep apnea – excess or loose tissue around the throat and/or soft palate – as opposed to just treating the symptoms.
“It is often treated with a procedure called the uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty. Also known as UPPP, this procedure focuses on the soft palate and the back of the throat and widens the airway for easier breathing,” explains Dr. Majid Jamali of New York, New York. “It can be performed traditionally or with a laser. The doctor might also use a radio-frequency probe to tighten loose tissues in the soft palate area. These are outpatient procedures and can be performed in the office under light sedation.”
2. Sleep Sensors
One of the more intriguing technological advances has been the progression of commercial sleep sensors. One product is Beddit, which uses a small strip of sensors placed underneath the sheets to accurately monitor your heart rate and identify sleep parameters. The sensors transmit data to an accompanying app. This gives users advice on how to optimize sleep, nutrition, and exercise for better rest.
You can see a list of some other popular sleep trackers and sensors here.
3. Smart Mattresses
Lately, sleep sensors have reached a new level with smart mattresses. Products like the Sleep Number 360 actually have sensors embedded inside the mattress. These sensors can detect shifts and they respond in real-time. This is a more intuitive approach that requires less manual input from the user, meaning it has more promise as a long-term solution.
“Like the company’s other mattresses, it can adjust each side independently to accommodate two sleepers. The company even claims it can detect your partner’s snoring and gently raise his or her side of the bed to quiet them,” health blogger Megan Thielking writes. “The goal, as Sleep Number puts it: help consumers ‘get their much needed vitamin Z.’”
The Future of Sleep is Bright
The future of sleep has never looked better. Whether you’re a technologist, doctor, entrepreneur, or consumer, you’ll want to keep an eye on these developments in the coming year.