Research found technology could be beneficial for sleep quality

Sleeping with a smartphone - Photo by: m01229 - Source: Flickr Creative Commons

A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consumer sleep technologies (CSTs) are positively changing our sleep health thanks to many new ingenious inventions. These new tech marvels range from wearable devices, new “sleep apps”, as well as intelligent mattress technologies that will grant us a pleasant, undisturbed torpor.

We already know very well that technology overuse may have serious negative consequences on our sleep health. Previous studies already found reliable evidence that pointed out how social media abuse can damage our sleep, for example. Continuous stimulation may cause insomnia or other disorders, while the blue light emitted by electronic devices may suppress melatonin. A recent survey found that people who use Instagram to hashtag their #goodnight time, go to bed around 10:00 PM on average, although in some states such as New York the usual bedtime is well past midnight. Having our tech devices within arm’s reach may increase our nighttime stress, and there’s no doubt that a tech-free bedroom is the best solution to improve our sleep quality.

 However, innovative sleep technologies are built with one precise purpose: improve your bedtime health while still being affordable. Top seller sleep-tracking products such as Jawbone and Fitbit are sold to millions of consumer every day, and at least 500 different dream-inducing apps with millions of downloads can be found on Apple iTunes, Android and Microsoft stores. The study reviewed several new devices to evaluate their effects on sleep quality from a clinical point of view.
 The most widely used CSTs are mobile apps for tablets and smartphones, ranging from sleep trackers, dream loggers and simple alarms. Some of them help facilitating sleep onset with relaxing music, nature sounds or calming graphics and they’re very easy to use. Wearable devices, instead, consist of a sensor directly attached to the human body such as a bracelet or on clothing, and are used to track the subject’s biometric information and body movements unobtrusively. Other advanced devices are all those gadgets which may be embedded into the consumer’s native sleep environment to record his vitals and to adjust mattress firmness or temperature for each partner’s half of the bed, either automatically or via remote control. Lastly, some modern appliances include novelty alarm clocks or electronic biofeedback accessories that induce self-relaxation and stress reduction.

According to this study, some devices are more than able to improve the overall quality of a subject’s sleep in different ways. The embedded platforms that merge the newest advanced foam mattress technologies with smart apps, for example, can provide a much more comfortable environment that adapts to individual needs. Techs that help the sleeper monitor his biometrics can provide invaluable feedback and sleep hygiene advice, promoting healthy habits through direct education. Smart alarms can be timed to awake the user only when he’s in the “light sleep” phase, improving cognitive performance during the first hours in the morning. Other more advanced desktop applications and monitoring applications may also be useful to help treat more serious disorders such as snoring, apneas and hypopneas.

Although technology could be the reason why we lost so many hours of sleep in the last few decades, it may also provide us with a better environment to spend our nights, actually increasing the quality of our sleep. In the near future, advanced domotics systems may also help track all environmental factors such as air flow, humidity and room temperature, further improving our sleep experience.

 

Article by Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D.

 

REFERENCES

 1. Ko P-RT, Kientz JA, Choe EK, Kay M, Landis CA, Watson NF. Consumer Sleep Technologies: A Review of the Landscape. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine : JCSM : Official Publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 2015;11(12):1455-1461. doi:10.5664/jcsm.5288.
2. Jessica C. Levenson et al. The association between social media use and sleep disturbance among young adults. Preventive Medicine, doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.01.001, published online January 2016