Remember when the simple task of brewing morning coffee required one to groggily crawl out of bed, fumble to the kitchen, fill the water chamber, change the coffee filter, grind the beans, measure them into a basket, press buttons, and blearily wait for that caffeine fix?
Yeah — we can barely remember those days, either.
The automation of daily tasks has had a staggering impact on how we in first world countries approach everyday living. The monotony of chores and the mental bandwidth that certain routines require has been lifted from us and placed into the hands of (oftentimes anthropomorphic) smart devices and robots. Our phones have become remote controls, virtually plugged into everything from our lights to our large appliances. Now the act of brewing coffee, for instance, can be done from the comfort of bed with a simple voice command.
There’s a lot of frivolity in our approach to tech these days, allowing it to streamline and simplify things that were arguably never a major problem in the first place. There’s an argument to be made that automation is not simply increasing productivity and leisure time, but making us lazy and exhausting our resources; do we need our refrigerators to tell us the weather? Do we need our golf clubs to play music? Do we need to operate the toaster from another room?
Of course, there are plenty of sectors in which technology stands to improve lives for the better: health and safety, security, access to clean water, translation tools, education, etc. One area into which plenty of resources are being poured these days, thankfully, is sleep. And rightly so; insomnia is a global epidemic that transcends class, race, gender, and nationality. Whoever you are, wherever you are, there’s statistically a very good chance that you struggle from at least one kind of issue when it comes to getting a decent night’s rest. And there are medically proven side effects; according to the Mayo Clinic, lack of sleep can negatively impact our immune systems in the short term, and in the long term it can increase risk of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Philips has been one of the companies pioneering research and product development in this area; in fact, the company has been working in the field for over forty years. Earlier this year, the company released the results of its annual global sleep survey in a report titled, “The Global Pursuit of Better Sleep Health.” The survey investigated both perceptions and actual behaviours regarding sleep, with adults from 12 different countries taking part. The results show that quality sleep remains an elusive thing to obtain. 77% of adults surveyed acknowledged that sleep impacts health; 62% stated that they sleep only somewhat well; 44% admitted that their sleep has worsened in the past five years; 8 in 10 adults wish to improve their sleeping habits; a 60% majority have never sought help from a medical professional.
Philips is working to combat these issues with its Philips SmartSleep Suite, a variety of products and an app that can help tackle certain issues and provide better data about our sleeping habits. We’ve reviewed one of these products, the Philips Wake-Up Light, before. Next up on our radar is a product that helped Philips take home a “Best Of” award at CES 2019: the SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband.
Developed in collaboration with doctors and researchers, this headband is designed for those who typically sleep less than 6 hours per night. It offers a drug-free alternative to your usual sleep aids (farewell, melatonin), working to increase sleep efficiency. You won’t sleep more, but you will sleep better.
The soft fabric headband, which comes in a heather grey colour, works with two small sensors that detect when the wearer is in a deep sleep. (The headband comes with 30 self-adhesive, disposable sensors, which can be used between 1 to 3 times, depending on the individual’s skin condition and the time between usages.) These sensors are placed behind the ear and work with a corresponding app to track the body in real time, recognizing the low heartbeat and slow breathing that occurs when one enters the most restorative stage of sleep, called “slow wave sleep.” When the body has entered this state, the headband’s proprietary algorithm triggers quiet audio tones designed to boost these slow waves. Data is sent to the SleepMapper app each morning (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are disabled when the device is being worn), providing important insight into the user’s sleep metrics.
These sleep metrics take a deep look into the wearer’s habits and rhythms, providing information on the total amount of time slept, how long it took to fall asleep, the number of times one is woken up, etc. All of this information paints a more thorough picture of where one needs to improve and which personal/environmental factors are negatively or positively impacting one’s ability to achieve REM (rapid eye movement) state sleep, a stage of unconsciousness whereby the sleeper experiences vivid dreams.
Not sure whether the SmartSleep Deep Sleep Headband is right for you? The clinically validated Philips SmartSleep Analyzer will assess your sleep habits in roughly ten minutes to help determine your personal root issues and whether the Headband — or another product in the Suite — is a good fit.
Looking for a more tactile sleeping solution? Check out the cuddly SOMNOX Sleep Robot.
Images via Philips.