From AI-powered beds to sleep-tracking rings, technology is helping us sleep better

  • Sleep better with an AI-powered bed
  • This smart pillow uses AI to silence your partner’s snoring
  • The Oura ring helps you get a good night’s sleep
  • Could technology be the solution to our sleeping woes?

Getting a good night’s sleep is absolutely essential for human health. And yet, sleep seems to be in rather short supply for a lot of people today. The American Sleep Association estimates that anywhere between 50 and 70 million US adults have a sleep disorder, such as insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, or narcolepsy. While each person has unique sleep requirements, most experts agree that the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per day to function properly. Unfortunately, that figure remains out of reach for many of us living in today’s fast-paced society. Hectic schedules, stressful working conditions, lack of exercise, continued exposure to artificial sources of light, and increased consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and junk food, are just some of the factors that have contributed to an increased prevalence of sleeping disorders across the world.

 An infographic showing facts and statistics about sleep and sleep disorders.
The average adult needs approximately 7-9 hours of sleep per day to function properly. However, according to the American Sleep Association, 35.3 per cent of US adults sleep less than 7 hours per day, while between 50 and 70 million of them have a sleep disorder.

Lack of sleep can seriously affect a person’s mood, energy, productivity, concentration, memory, judgement, sex drive, weight, and the ability to handle stress, as well as their mental and physical health. It’s also been associated with an increased risk of serious health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and certain cancers. As usual, technology may offer a solution. In recent years, a number of innovative tech products have appeared on the market that claim to be able to help us fall asleep faster and improve our sleep quality. According to a recent report published by Global Market Insights, the global sleep tech devices market is predicted to surpass $27 billion by 2025.

 An infographic showing the predicted value of the global sleep tech devices market by 2025.
A recent report published by Global Market Insights predicts that the value of the global sleep tech devices market will exceed $27 billion by 2025.

Sleep better with an AI-powered bed

The US-based sleep tech company Bryte recently unveiled an AI-powered smart bed that can automatically adjust to the position of the user’s body throughout the night to help them stay asleep. The Bryte Bed uses a variety of sensors to track the user’s weight distribution, body temperature, sleep environment, and pressure points as they sleep. This information is then processed by the bed’s central processing unit and used to make minor adjustments to the bed to keep the user comfortable. If these automatic changes aren’t to their liking, users also have the ability to set their own preferences manually using the Bryte mobile app. The bed is composed of 100 active coils arranged into 16 different zones, which can be adjusted via a virtually silent pneumatics system to customise support for different parts of the body.

“Every person sleeps differently, and every person’s sleep is different night after night,” says Bryte’s co-founder and CEO, John Tompane. “The idea that a static mattress would work for every person, every night, is unreasonable.” The Bryte Bed also features a thermoelectric cooling and heating system that allows it to optimise the user’s body temperature so as to increase their deep sleep. Users can even instruct the bed to gently lull them to sleep by activating a soothing wave motion. It’s also suitable for couples, as it can differentiate between the occupants and adjust each side of the bed separately to ensure that both people get a good night’s sleep. All of these features are controlled through an intelligent sleep platform called Aiden Sleep Service. Described by the company as your personal sleep concierge, Aiden learns your sleeping style and habits over time and adjusts to them to personalise and improve your sleep experience using the latest sleep science and machine learning algorithms.

The Bryte Bed also has the ability to connect to other smart products in the user’s home, such as lighting and thermostats, allowing it to create a personalised bedtime or morning routine by dimming the lights at night or increasing the temperature and lighting in the morning to simulate sunrise. Any data collected by the system is anonymised to protect the user’s privacy and used only to advance sleep research and guide future product updates. The bed comes in three different sizes: queen, king, and california king. It can fit most existing bed frames or stand alone on its base. On the surface, it looks like an ordinary bed, with the top layer made from latex-free luxury hybrid foam and a high-quality Tencel topper. “It was crucial for us that the Bryte Bed look and feel like a beautiful inviting bed,” says Tompane. “All of the technology and features needed to be hidden.”

This smart pillow uses AI to silence your partner’s snoring

Anyone who’s ever had to share a bed with someone who snores knows how annoying and disruptive to your sleep it can be. Thankfully, that may soon be a thing of the past. A team of researchers from Northern Illinois University have developed a smart pillow that uses noise-cancelling technology and adaptive algorithms to adjust to the snorer’s unique breathing patterns and silence them. The pillow uses an array of microphones to detect nearby snoring sounds and ambient noises and then produces sound waves of equal amplitude to cancel them out.

Previous attempts to tackle snoring involved mounting noise-cancelling technology inside headboards and blankets. The problem with this approach is that it’s not particularly effective at reducing noise around the ears of the snorer’s bed partner and that the headboard isn’t portable. The researchers solved both of these problems by embedding the technology directly into the pillow. A reference microphone first detects snoring sounds, while two error microphones detect any residual noise. An adaptive filter then proceeds to generate an appropriate antinoise signal based on these inputs and plays it through two speakers integrated into the pillow.

“Since each snorer’s snore signals have their unique time-frequency characteristics, it is essential to design an adaptive LMS algorithm for the best cancellation performance for different snore signals,” explains Lichuan Liu, one of the co-authors of the study. According to the researchers, it was necessary to use an adaptive algorithm to account for any changes in the partner’s snoring throughout the night. Initial tests revealed that the pillow can reduce noise by up to 31 decibels, as opposed to 22 decibels achieved by the headboard systems. In the future, the researchers also plan to explore using machine learning techniques to identify snore signals that may be indicative of sleep disorders.

The Oura ring helps you get a good night’s sleep

Developed by the Finland-based startup Oura Health, the Oura ring is an innovative sleep tracker worn around the finger that uses various sensors to measure different sleep stages. Designed to be worn 24/7, the ring contains infrared LEDs that measure the user’s heart rate, a temperature sensor that monitors changes in body heat, and a 3D accelerometer that tracks their movement. “We wanted to develop something that would help people understand how their body responds to their lifestyle,” says co-founder and president Petteri Lahtela.

The Oura ring was inspired by pulse oximeters used in hospitals, which are attached to patients’ fingertips. “There are two arteries on the palm side of each finger,” explains Lahtela. “We noticed that by using certain wavelengths of infrared light, we can get access to those arteries and get very good signal strength.” All of the electronics are concealed on the inside of the band, which is designed to be unisex and comes in three different colours: grey, black, and silver-and-diamond. The sensors measure the pulse 250 times per second, which allows the ring to track both the strength of the user’s heartbeat and their heart rate variability. All of the data is then processed by Oura’s algorithms to detect different sleep stages and derive insights about the user’s sleep quality.

The ring allows the user to track their sleeping habits over time and see how their lifestyle changes affect the quality of their sleep. Once they wake up, users can connect the ring to a companion app via Bluetooth and review their overall sleep time, resting heart rate, and a breakdown of sleep stages. The app also presents them with an overall sleep score, as well as a readiness score that indicates how prepared they are for the challenges a new day brings. Once it gathers enough data, the app can also offer useful sleeping advice, such as suggesting an optimal bedtime.

Could technology be the solution to our sleeping woes?

It can’t be stressed enough just how crucial sleep is for both our mental and physical health. Unfortunately, for many of us, our hectic lifestyles are making it nearly impossible to get those recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. And this can lead to serious consequences. The lack of sleep can have a negative impact on a person’s mood and brain activity, and has been linked to a host of health issues, including obesity, depression, and cardiovascular diseases. To address these issues and get a good night’s sleep, people are increasingly turning to technology for help. From AI-powered beds and noise-cancelling pillows to sleep-tracking rings, sleep tech is becoming an increasingly common sight in our bedrooms. As people become more aware of the importance of sleep, this trend is expected to continue well into the future, forever changing the way we sleep.

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