Wired for sleep: gadgets to give you a good night's rest

Mattress sensors, programmable lights and smart bedding that rates your slumber are among the new gadgets aiming to give you a good night's rest

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 January, 2015, 7:57am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 January, 2015, 7:57am
AFP

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New technology is staying up all night, so you don't have to.

Many people suffer from a lack of sleep, or what experts call a lack of quality sleep that allows you to feel refreshed.

Some new devices monitor nocturnal activity to get a better handle on the problem, while others offer aid through techniques such as modulating light and sound.

One of the critical elements is getting good data that can be analysed, said Terry Duesterhoeft, president of medical equipment group A&D Medical, which works with partners that make wristbands and other devices to collect data during the night. "We can get a great deal of analytics on sleep quality," Duesterhoeft said.

California-based A&D provides an app that monitors activity throughout the day using a tracker, and an upgrade will be able to detect REM or rapid eye movement sleep, seen as an important component of a restful night.

Other products are aimed at a speedier solution to poor sleep habits.

French startup Holi has developed a programmable LED light aimed at inducing sleep for those who need it.

"It's the first solution that combines a colour-changing LED light bulb designed for sleep and a sleep application," said Gregoire Gerard, chief executive of the Lyon-based group.

"The bulb communicates with the smartphone and can be programmed in several ways."

A reddish light helps the user produce melatonin, a hormone seen as important in sleep cycles.

"The next morning, the light switches from blue to white for gentle awakening," he said of the product, which is being sold in Europe and will be available in March in the United States.

The app allows the user to visualise data and get advice for improving sleep.

"You can see what the temperature and noise levels were," Gerard said. "The more data we have, the more accurate the advice is."

The Aura sleep system, from French tech group Withings, uses both gentle light and sound to induce slumber, a "smart" wake-up light that aims for the best moment in the sleep cycle, and a sensor pad that attaches to the mattress to measure heart activity, breathing and sleep cycles.

"The music and light enable you to fall asleep and wake up gently," said Withings product manager Marie Loubiere.

"You get a report every day. So you can see for example if you sleep better when you go to bed at 10pm instead of 11pm."

Another product, RestOn from China-based Sleepace, uses a bed sensor to measure sleep time, heart rate, respiratory rate, body movement and sleep cycles, and offers advice to improve sleep quality.

Others aim for solutions to help parents track problems with their children in addition to their own sleep.

Paris-based Sevenhugs has introduced a system using small transmitters that can be placed in each bedroom to communicate with a controller and app.

The HugOne system monitors temperature and humidity in every bedroom, as well as indoor air quality. It also records sleep data and can interact with smart light bulbs and thermostats.

The bedding industry is not taking the problem lying down.

Minnesota-based Select Comfort, which makes the adjustable firmness Sleep Number beds, has a new bedding with tracking sensors already built in, which connect to an app, allowing parents to see how their children are sleeping.

"There's nothing to wear, there's nothing to turn on. You just get into bed," said Sleep Number spokeswoman Kelley Parker.

The system "tracks and monitors your sleep and gives you a 'sleep IQ' score" that indicates how restful the night was, Parker said. "We know one of the biggest things parents struggle with is understanding the quality and quantity of their kids' sleep," she added.

One more feature of the system, said Parker: it will "scan for monsters" in the room so that children can go to bed reassured.