Nothing beats a full night’s sleep – and America is finally investing in it.
Sleep trackers and apps are attracting the more than 30 percent of Americans who aren’t getting the minimum seven hours of sleep per night, and the sleep tech market expects to reach $125.8 million in 2017.
Sleep Loss Is Costing Us More Than Our Health
Sleep loss is costing America an enormous amount of money. $411 billion per year, to be exact. With their bottom lines at stake, companies are beginning to invest in their employees’ sleep.
While companies like Google and Uber are installing nap pods in their offices and embracing nap culture, Aetna has as gone as far as offering financial incentives if employees can prove they’ve gotten at least seven hours of sleep for 20 consecutive nights. How are they keeping people honest? With fitness and sleep trackers.
But Corporate America isn’t the first to crash our country’s slumber party with cutting-edge tech. Professional and collegiate athletes have been using wellness and sleep trackers to optimize performance and improve productivity for years. And now technology companies are introducing some of the same tools to the general population – without the hefty sleep consultant fees.
So, What Is a Sleep Tracker?
Devices vary, but common sleep trackers monitor sleep duration, sleep quality, sleep phases, environmental factors (like the amount of light or temperature in your room), and lifestyle factors (like caffeine intake), according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Better yet, sleep tracker technology is no longer expensive or uncommon. Most smartphones and many fitness watches come with the basics when it comes to sleep tracking.
How do They Work?
Wearable sleep trackers use a small device called an actigraph to monitor movement over a period of time. Actigraphy has been used by clinicians for 30-plus years, and according to a study by the American College of Chest Physicians, it can usually estimate total sleep time, sleep percentage, and how long after-sleep waking occurs.
But while effective, the technology isn’t perfect. Actigraphy attributes stillness with sleep and movement with waking, making it difficult for those who lie awake in bed with severe insomnia or other sleep disorders to get an accurate read.
Some devices are attempting to combat these variables with physical sensors like bioimpedance to measure heart rate. Though not yet backed by scientific data, these tools aim to use heart rate and actigraphy together to more accurately identify and track the physical characteristics of sleep stages.
Non-wearable sleep trackers are a less invasive way to measure sleep stages, breathing patterns, heart rate, and movement. Our Sleeptracker® Monitor lives under you mattress, analyzes your sleep patterns, and provides personalized feedback to improve deep or REM sleep. The device is designed to complement your mattress and improve your entire sleep environment, a philosophy that’s gaining traction in the mainstream.
Beyond the Tracker
There’s plenty of other sleep tech that can help you get better shuteye. Ebb’s headband is a wearable device that cools your forehead to reduce brain activity, making it easier to fall asleep. Pzizz – one of many apps designed to help you fall asleep faster – uses psychoacoustics to customize soothing sounds and voice-overs. And podcasts like Sleep with Me and Meditation Minis help you decompress and de-stress so you can wake up truly rested.
The digital health sector has experienced enormous funding over the last few years. And with 40 million Americans suffering from sleep disorders, it’s about time we reap the benefits. So whether you’re looking to ease anxiety, fall asleep faster, or stay cool at night, there’s a tracker, device, podcast – or app – for that.