Sleep Solutions: Why Tech Companies Are Pursuing Better Rest

Social Media Week

While sleep tracking is still relatively new in terms of popularity, if fitness trackers are any indication, it won’t be long until we’re signing up for a workweek sleep challenge with our friends the same way we compete for the most Fitbit steps.

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Can tech companies profit from helping us sleep more – and sleep better? Constant attachment to our phones and tablets, midnight email checking, and late night web surfing all contribute to increased stress and diminished sleep.

However, improved rest is the target for many devices. In a trend set to reverse modern sleep deprivation, the Internet of Things (IoT) is making incursions into the bedroom.

While many of us already own devices that measure our activity or use apps that remind us to take screen breaks, the questions remains: are we ready to invite the IoT into bed with us?

Trends indicate that we’ve already opened the door, and with devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, the new all-purpose life assistants, we can’t deny the IoT’s reach.

These 3 tools are just a few new options that are changing the way we rest. It’s time we all get a good night’s sleep again.

Sleep Struggles: A Primer

A good night’s sleep depends on a number of factors, some of which are particular to your body, and some of which are more systemic. For example, exposure to blue light, the type of light emitted by most of our devices, suppresses your natural melatonin rhythms, making it difficult to fall asleep. The more time we spend staring at a screen trying to get sleepy, the worse we actually make the situation.

Other sleep disruptions include factors like snoring, which varies in presence and severity among individuals. Snorers get less deep sleep due to disruptions in the sleep process, a factor that can cause ongoing sleep deprivation. A habitual snorer may think they’re getting enough sleep, but may actually experience significant periods of wakefulness.

Though issues like blue light exposure and snoring are very different, sleep tech can actually benefit people struggling with both issues. By keying us in to our sleep habits, we can take a proactive approach to rest.

Working Overtime: Fitbit

One of the most common sleep trackers on the market is the Fitbit, marketed primarily to monitor physical activity. But although the device – which comes in a variety of styles with different capacities, as well as an associated app – is targeted at measuring how often and how much we move, it can also track sleep quality.

By syncing your device with the Fitbit app, you can see how long you slept and how often you woke up during the night, which can help you determine if you’re getting enough deep, refreshing sleep…a metric that can help those who snore determine if the problem is significantly impacting their sleep. The Fitbit may not be the most accurate sleep tracker, however, as the function is a secondary feature.

App Approaches: SleepBot

Some of the most rudimentary approaches to sleep monitoring rely more heavily on human interaction, with apps like SleepBot requiring you to check in when you lay down to go to sleep and check out when you wake up. This approach has some obvious weaknesses – say, if you’re the kind of person who tosses around for an hour before being able to fall asleep – but the app also acts as an alarm clock, turns off your WiFi to prevent disruptions, and silences your phone.

Down the line, SleepBot hopes to find ways to more effectively measure sleep activity like tossing and turning, but at this juncture, the app is a combination anti-distraction tool, alarm clock, and sleep journal.

Fully Focused: Zeo Personal Sleep Coach

If you really want to tune in to your sleep, you’ll want to invest in a device specifically designed for that purpose. Though a little pricy, the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach comes with a headband that you wear while sleeping, an alarm clock with a charger, and an SD card and reader to store your sleep data.

Not only does Zeo track your sleep activity and allow you to analyze that content with help from its website, the device can help improve the process of waking up. When we jolt ourselves awake from a deep sleep, we’re often tired and foggy because we’ve rapidly changed our brain state.

But the Zeo works with your alarm clock to sense when you’re in a lighter phase of sleep, so that it can wake you up then. This is a much more gentle way to wake up and you’ll be more likely to feel well-rested and alert.

While sleep tracking is still relatively new in terms of popularity, if fitness trackers are any indication, it won’t be long until we’re signing up for a workweek sleep challenge with our friends the same way we compete for the most Fitbit steps.

Sleep tracking may be just the tech slowdown we need most right now, helping us all get a good night’s rest.

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Larry Alton

Writer, Freelancer

Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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