How AI Can Help You Sleep Better


12/03/2019

Did you know that Artificial Intelligence could help you sleep better? We’ve all been there, lying awake at 2 am. Sleep completely alluding us. Calculating how many hours sleep we’ll get if we fall asleep now… or now… or how about now? Let’s face it, the countdown makes it even worse. Regardless of the underlying reasons behind not being able to sleep, one thing is for sure – those missing hours can make a huge impact on your wellbeing.

It’s not uncommon, with 2 in 3 adults reportedly not getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep a night. So, if you struggle to catch those Zzz’s – you’re not alone!

Artificial Intelligence will help you sleep better

We live in a world where, unfortunately, people celebrate their lack of sleep. It’s seen as a feat that highly successful people idolise. I see so many LinkedIn post’s from “CEOs/Entrepreneurs” claiming they sleep for 3 hours a night, get up at 4 am to meditate, work out and ‘smash their goals’. This simply isn’t sustainable! And, if true (big IF), these people are working themselves into early graves… hardly something to celebrate. Lack of sleep exacerbates the chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular issues, strokes, and heart failure.

Lack of sleep is a public health problem

The lack of sleep we suffer collectively is an epidemic. Many organisations recognise this, with the CDC in America declaring it ‘a public health problem’, that stems to the UK, Europe, Japan, and Canada too. Companies are demanding more from workers as our always switched-on digital lifestyles impact this, but businesses are in turn losing money. According to RAND, the UK suffers a loss of 207,000 working days due to lack of sleep, with the highest economic loss being in the US up to $411 billion a year, and Japan following at $138 billion.

Whilst many don’t even recognise it as such a big problem, partially down to the previous lack of scientific and medical backing until recent years, we’re now seeing an increase in organisations wanting to help us sleep better with the help of technology.

Artificial Intelligence is helping solve the issue

For years, any scientific research into how people sleep has been predominantly conducted in laboratories, with patients restricted with wires, electrodes, sensors, and machines. Not the most calming or sleep-inducing of settings for a good sleeper, let alone someone who already has inherent difficulties. However, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence and medical diagnostics, we may be able to delve deeper into our sleep problems in a non-invasive way using radio waves.

Dina Kabati and her team at MIT and Massachusetts General Hospital have found a way to use artificial intelligence to track a patients sleep cycle using a device that analyses the radio signals around the person’s body and translates them into the recognised sleep stages of awake, REM, deep and light sleep. The algorithm is 80% accurate in predicting the stages, which is about the same as a human sleep technician.

Sleep tracking and monitoring

The team has previously developed sensors that are able to monitor vital signs remotely, tracking a person’s health through the radio waves and analysing them. Much in a similar way the algorithm recognises the stages of sleep, this can determine indicators of a person’s health through breathing and pulse rates. Another sensor they have worked on is WiGait, which measures walking speeds, so when paired it can help doctors gain insight into cognitive health, cardiovascular diseases, and others. To apply this technology to the study of sleep is groundbreaking, and could help us learn more about sleep and preventative measures to some of the biggest health risks that come with not getting enough sleep.

These sensors aren’t available commercially – but, if you’re interested in using technology at home to help you sleep better, there’s plenty of inventions at your disposal. SleepScore Labs have been studying sleep for over a decade and now have a SleepScore app that works by monitoring your breathing rate and movement through the speaker and microphone on your smartphone, in turn processing this data into a sleep score, compared to others in your demographic – the report is shaping a personalised approach to improving your sleep.

Is your mattress promoting a good nights sleep?

Comfort is another concern amongst many when it comes to sleep quality. There’s nothing worse than a mattress that doesn’t agree with you, leading to disrupted sleep, and postural problems. You can now track your sleep with the HEKA AI Mattress, which works by collecting data as you move throughout the night. The pressure distribution is then analysed according to your body movements and positioning. The mattress then adjusts to your movements, allowing for a more peaceful nights rest.

Going back natural sleep

Another company looking to help us sleep better is Dreem. They’ve designed a headband to monitor brain activity, movement and heart rate while sleeping in your own, usual sleeping environment. This data helps understand your sleep patterns better through machine learning and analysis of the data the sensors in the band read from the person. Amongst other functions, it emits sound stimulations to help maintain quality sleep, breathing exercises, and a smart alarm to trigger a more natural wake up. The data is then fed into a customised program to guide you into a better sleeping routine.

It’s recommended to stick to the same ‘sleeping hours’ where possible, limit the use of phones and televisions right before bed, and exercising in the day in order to promote a better night’s rest. Not just this but in my opinion, more employers need to recognise the importance of sleep and the impact it can have on the workforce. To promote this, they can make small steps such as not putting so much pressure on employees. Promoting down time outside of office times, and the limited use of work tech they may take home with them.

More people are beginning to recognise the importance of getting a good night’s sleep, and how it can impact our general health and wellbeing. I for one can’t wait to see how technology will continue to assist us in our quests for better sleep.

 

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help You Sleep Better


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