The Future of Sleep – StimScience

Modern technology has already changed the way we sleep, and unfortunately most of these changes have been detrimental to our sleep health. International travel and early-morning / late-night conference calls confuse our body’s circadian clock. And phones and social media lead to increased nighttime blue-light exposure and “sleep procrastination”, reducing our time in bed. For these reasons and others, one in three adults struggles with insomnia, and more than half of us are dissatisfied with the quantity or quality of our sleep. 

Thankfully, sleep researchers and technology developers have started to recognize the opportunities for science and technology to help correct some of the sleep imbalances introduced by modern life. As the CEO of a Silicon Valley startup focused on sleep, I see a lot of the trends in the world of sleep technology in the very early stages. How will technology change the way that we sleep in the future? Here are a few predictions… 

Adaptive sleep environment. When most of us think about our sleep environment, we think about the softness of our pillow and mattress, or the thickness of our duvet. Smart home technology will allow us to control many more aspects of our sleep environments, including temperature, ambient lighting, and soundscape. You’ll be able to wake up to a simulated sunrise that can naturally keep your circadian rhythm in sync with your sleep schedule. Adaptive smart home technology can even help resolve the age-old conflict between partners with different sleeping temperatures – your bed can have a warm side and a cool side!

Sleep tracking. People use all sorts of devices to track their sleep at home, from mobile apps to smartwatches to pressure-sensitive pads built into their mattresses. Today, there’s a big gap in accuracy between these consumer trackers and the advanced medical equipment used at professional sleep labs, but in the near future, at-home sleep trackers will be able to tell you – and with your permission your doctor – everything about your sleep that you could learn in a lab. These advanced sleep trackers will help you understand specific changes you can make to improve your sleep and will even serve as early warning systems for detecting diseases.

Neuro-technology. Sleep is fundamentally a brain process, and one of the best ways to improve sleep is to directly stimulate the brain and nervous system to promote sleep. New wearables like Somnee™ do exactly that – they use the latest advances in non-invasive brain stimulation to improve sleep safely and effectively (see below). There are also neuro-tech approaches  which stimulate the nervous system to treat sleep apnea or other health issues tied to poor sleep. As neuroscientists learn more about the brain’s behavior while sleeping, look for neuro-technology to become a core part of your sleep routine.

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Aaron Bromberg is the Chief Executive Officer of StimScience. He has over fifteen years of experience launching and managing new consumer hardware and software products.

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