Ready to Sleep? Have Technology Count Your Sheeps for You

Good sleep practice includes disconnecting from your electronic devices one to two hours before bed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have your apps and technology stop working for you for a better night’s sleep.

This article does a deep dive into the latest in sleep technology, from the new kids on the block related to bedding to apps that are making a household name for themselves more and more. There is new advancements for those who have specific sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea. 

More than 1/3 of Americans are chronically sleep deprived, and 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders. The global market for sleep aids was estimated to be $58.1 billion in 2014 , and is predicted to grow to $76.7 billion by 2019 . In the past few years, we have started to become more aware of the benefits and necessity of sleep, as well as the serious consequences of sleep deprivation, such as weight gain, heightened stress, depression, and low energy. The last few years have also seen growth in the availability and lowering in the cost of sensors and technologies to monitor sleep. Consumers have become more amenable to wearable devices, using products like Fitbit, Jawbone, and Apple HealthKit to monitor daily activity. The combination of these trends leads us to believe that the time is now for technology — hardware devices, mobile applications, medical treatments, and other products — to dramatically improve the way people sleep.
To segment the market of current players in sleep technology, let’s think about our day as four parts: 1) falling asleep, 2) sleep time, 3) waking up, and 4) awake time.

Falling Asleep

Falling asleep is a major pain point for many people — perhaps the biggest trouble the average person has with sleep — especially the 30% of Americans who experience insomnia symptoms every year. For those who struggle to get to sleep, melatonin pills and drugs such as Lunesta have been the traditional go-to solution. However, these drugs come with side effects, including grogginess, nausea, headaches the next morning, and addiction. Among alternatives to pills is Sprayable Sleep , a melatonin spray whose effects sink in slowly, eliminating the feeling of grogginess upon waking up. There has also been a recent development of mobile apps that aim to solve this problem, such as Pzizz and Sleepio — a digital sleep improvement program that uses CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to help lower the time it takes to fall asleep.

Can technology improve how we fall asleep? We sure hope so, and would love to meet entrepreneurs coming up with innovative solutions for this.

Sleep time

The global mattress market is predicted to be $25 billion by 2017 . Venture-backed companies such as Casper , Tuft & Needle , Leesa , and Helix Sleep , have launched over the past couple of years to provide consumers a way to buy a mattress direct, online, without shopping in the traditional showroom experience. In addition to mattresses, smart mattress pads such as Eight are enabling consumers to heat or cool their beds for further comfort (as well as providing functionality such as sleep tracking “embedded” in the mattress pad itself instead of a wearable device).

Scientists have been trying to understand sleep by tracking it for centuries. There are several consumer devices out in the market now that enable people to track sleep. Jawbone and Fitbit have sleep tracking capabilities integrated into wearable products. Sense by Hello has a device that clips onto your pillow, and another device that sits near your bed, to track the quality of your sleep, and also offers capabilities such as a smart alarm (hence why we included it in our “Waking Up” section in the market map). Zeo was a pioneer in sleep tracking via a headband, and new companies like Rythm are launching with headband products for tracking sleep, and even improving the quality of your sleep via neural stimulation.

Sleep disorders are becoming more prevalent in the general population, and mattresses and tracking devices are unfortunately ineffective in dealing with them. Aside from insomnia, the leading sleep disorder is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea devices are estimated to reach $6.4 billion in annual spend by 2019. Devices such as Airing aim to temporarily fix the logistical issues associated with sleep apnea, including snoring and breathing, while others like Winx are developing novel treatments and therapies for sleep apnea.

Who loves waking up in the morning?! There are several mobile apps on iOS and Google Play that act as both alarm clocks and sleep trackers — Sleep Genius , Sleep Alarm all wake the user up at the moment of “lightest sleep” in the sleep cycle (given any 30-minute time window) and provide data of the user’s sleep patterns for the night. However, there are still questions around the accuracy and effectiveness of these apps. An interesting app we also recently came across is Wakie , which tries to make waking up “fun” by replacing the traditional alarm with a phone call from a random stranger. Hopefully these products are just scratching the surface on transforming waking up every morning into a more positive experience.

When you haven’t had a great night’s sleep, how do you perform during the day? As a result of chronic sleep deprivation, many people rely on caffeine and tea to help themselves stay awake throughout the day. The average American drinks 2.1 cups of coffee a day! There are a few other solutions to help people stay awake throughout the day — for example, Sprayable Energy , a topical caffeine spray that gives users a healthier and more effective alternative to coffee and energy drinks. Thync is a wearable that claims to enhance your energy and to make you calmer during the day via pulsed neurostimulation waveforms (it also tracks your sleep).

Many people struggle with mental health disorders, and many of these disorders can impact sleep. While in-person therapy is often prescribed for mental illness, online services and programs like Lantern , Talkspace , and 7 cups of tea can enable people to help get from anywhere at anytime. Studies have shown that mindfulness and meditation can reduce stress, and mobile apps like Headspace and Calm provide easy access to guided meditation.

Read the original article here for a full list of sleep tech apps and products here.


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