The presence of technology in our day to day to day lives is only increasing and with this comes negative and positive consequences. Typically, technology is blamed for disrupting sleep, as many keep their cell phones nearby during the night or use their phones and laptops as alarms. In addition to these disruptions caused by noise, the blue light emitted from these devices has detrimental effects on our circadian rhythms. Technology, however, is not always harmful to sleep.
“Connected Sleep” is a tech boom in its infancy that is attempting to turn our movements, heart rate and respiratory information into data we can review to see how well we slept. As these gadgets, like Fit Bit, become more and more common we get more information about sleep. Anyone who has a tracker looking at their overall fitness and activity are also tracking sleep. People are being given a lot of information about their sleep patterns but how useful is it? And is any of it actually improving people’s sleep?
Fitbit, Jawbone, Misfit, all rely on motion sensors. There are Apps, wearables, and strips to put under your sheets or mattress. Some are more sophisticated and will tell you not only how you slept but time spent in each stage of sleep, downloads data to your smart phone, analyzes your sleep environment and tells you how to improve (lighting, temperature, sounds) your environment and provide tips on improving your sleep.
They can also tell how well your body is recovering from the previous days activities. The goal of this technology is to provide an intervention of some sort. It can do things like change the temperature of your bed or mattress because there is a cyclical change in the temperature and sometimes the temperature goes up and when it goes up its going to wake you up and interrupt your sleep. Some of these gadgets are even able to diagnose certain disorders like apnea.
Emerging apps have utilized commonly prescribed sleep tips and have developed systems where users can access these tips whenever and wherever they need. Without replacing your doctor, educational sleep apps work well as supplemental information.