As a society, we are trying to implement solutions and ways to track our sleeping habits. We are told to stay away from electronic devices and blue light technology as this light disrupts our circadian rhythms. Yet these new sleep trackers are all expressed through modern technology. There are apps on our smartphones that track our sleep, like SleepBot, or MotionX 24/7. You can stick your phones underneath your pillows before you go to bed and the apps apparently track our sleeping habits, including what times we are awake.
Some of us believe that these apps do not actually work and provide false information. The new fab in today’s technology are fitness trackers like Fitbit, Jawbone UP, Nike FuelBand, or the Apple Watch. As a media studies major, we often discuss what defines something as “real.” With the upcoming technologies and boom of social media, it is hard to trust things that are real versus things that are fake. In most of my classes, we have come to the conclusion that we believe more when things are physical.
These fitness trackers are built to pretty much control our lives right on our wrists. Because they are something that is tangible, we interpret their analysis and numbers as more “real”. They track our heart rate, our exercise and daily physical activities, and have the power to inform us when someone is calling or texting us. One of the major reasons why people buy these fitness trackers is for the sleep tracking aspect. Each fitness tracker has a different area of sleep analysis they specialize in, such as the Fitbit Force, which tracks how long they slept and how many times they were restless and woke up during the night. Jawbone UP takes a step further and breaks down your sleep time into deep and light stages. One of the least popular, but highly ranked fitness trackers, is the Basis B1, which launched a new sleep analysis that measures REM sleep.
Fitbit owns and dominates the fitness tracker industry as they own a 85% of market share. “Fitbit raised $132 million in net income on $745 million in revenue last year with $336 million in revenue in the first quarter of this year. [They have] sold more than 21 million devices since 2008 and has 9.5 million active users." Something behind the scenes that the we don’t often think about is how Fitbit tracks and collects data from all of their users. For example, majority of Fitbit users wake up on average of 9.3 times a night. Their data suggests interesting trends about different socio characteristics about their sleep patterns. Of the main questions that experts asking is how accurate is the sleep data acquired from these devices?
Philippe Kahn is one of the most famous technology pioneers as he invented the world’s first camera phone. Since that point in history, technology has never been the same. We’ve had a growing problem with sleep since shift workers in the Industrial Revolution. Kahn noticed that humans function best when sleep is budgeted and optimized for and the returns are measured in terms of health and productivity. In 2003, he founded Fullpower Technology as he became interested in sensor and data analytics technology.
Fullpower is the leader in wearable, Internet-of things (IoT) sensor-based technology, an forecasted $19 trillion industry that is predicted to have 50 billion interconnected devices by 2020.. They have partnered with Nike, Movado, Mondaine, Texas Instruments, and Apple. This company built a lab just to capture data from sleep patterns and ended up creating one of the most popular technologies in the sleep world today, the IoT Smartbed. The Smartbed erases the traditional box-spring of a typical bed and replaces it with a sensor that monitors movement, body temperature, other thing to optimize when and how much we sleep. The Smartbed will have “the ability to turn your bedroom thermostat down when your body is at rest and turn the heat back up when the bed senses you are waking. It will lift the shades in your bedroom, signal the hot water heater to ready in your shower, and the coffee machine to prepare your coffee just the way you like it” (Costa). Kahn exclaims that sleep is a smart application for his company to tackle because of the number of hours humans spend sleeping. His main goal is not only to revolutionize the way we sleep, but also the effect it will have on efficiency, health, and longevity of humans.
This bed is special to Fullpower as they utilized their own patented Sleeptracker Sleep Monitoring Technology platform, which is proven to track your sleep patterns of a 95% accuracy with a professional polysomnography sleep machine. The bed has been optimized with more than 200 million nights of sleep tracking and analysis. Fullpower teamed up with Serta and Simmons to distribute this new revolution of a bed.
Reset Therapeutics is another company that is focusing on changing the technology of sleep. They are pairing with the latest research in genomics and other personal genetics startups, such as 23andMe to try and develop a drug that can manipulate our circadian rhythms. Their goal is to create a drug that resets the chronotypes of humans who have chosen or need to live a different lifestyle or whose circadian clocks are impaired. The drug is currently in the development phase, where it is being tested on narcolepsy and Cushing’s disease. Both are orphan diseases, which are diseases that affect fewer than 200,00 people nationwide. Reset is focusing on creating a drug that will restore our circadian rhythms to a 24-hour period.
BLUE LIGHT FILTERING
As mentioned in the electronic use section, the number of screens are only increasing. Developers are trying to find solutions to this problem as they are realizing their technology is having an impact on health. There are now apps, like SleepShield or f.lux, that filters the blue light from our screens. Apple recently just came out with NightShift, which is a built-in feature on the newer iPhones and iPads. “Night Shift uses your iOS device’s clock and geolocation to determine when it’s sunset in your location, then it automatically shifts the colors in your display to the warmer end of the spectrum. In the morning, it returns the display to its regular settings."
Reducing your exposure to blue light means increasing the exposure to non-UV green light. Re-Timer is an example of a device that will make our eyes see a soft green light, therefore reprogramming our sleep cycle. Exposing our eyes to green light will help get our internal clocks back on track. This soft green light helps us counter jet lag, improves the alertness of shift workers and makes waking up in the morning easier. Re-Timer is the only wearable device that diffuses green light.
WHITE NOISE MACHINES
White noise machines are also another alternative to help us fall asleep. These machines play audio tracks that are designed to provide some background noise. Our brains do not focus on the noise when it is playing. There are physical noise machines and apps on our phones that can do the job as well.
The newest branch of sleep medicine is how to naturally get a good night's sleep. All of these technological solutions provide a safer and a more effective treatment for altering patterns than tricking our bodies by using drugs.