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Headband developed in Western Pa. designed to help you sleep better

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, 10:06 a.m.
Mark Michels, head of healthy sleep solutions at Philips, displays a SmartSleep device Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, at CES in Las Vegas.
Aaron Aupperlee | Tribune-Review
Mark Michels, head of healthy sleep solutions at Philips, displays a SmartSleep device Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, at CES in Las Vegas.

Sleep-tracking devices surrounded Mark Michels.

He was smack in the middle of the personal health, wellness and fitness booths this week at CES in Las Vegas, the world's largest consumer electronics show.

Everything from mattresses to pillows to smartwatches could track how many hours and how deeply people slept in an effort to help them sleep better.

But Michels held a soft headband called SmartSleep in his hand.

"It's different," said Michels, the head of healthy sleep solutions at Philips. "This improves the quality of your sleep, not just tracking it."

Philips launched SmartSleep at CES. It was one of hundreds of gadgets and wearables focused on sleep.

SmartSleep is a soft headband you wear while you sleep. The headband has two sensors, one touching the forehead and one tucked behind the ear, that measure electrical activity in the brain.

Much of the device was developed in Western Pennsylvania, Michels said, either at Philips' new facility in Oakland or its offices in Monroe­ville.

The device targets slow-wave sleep, which occurs in the deepest level of sleep. A lack of slow-wave sleep can affect memory, concentration and other cognitive functions, Michels said. It also can affect your mood.

And if you're not getting at least seven hours of sleep a night — about 40 percent of people between 25 and 54 don't — chances are you're not getting enough slow wave sleep, Michels said.

SmartSleep helps people get the benefit of a full night's sleep in less time. Think of slow-wave sleep as a long, wavy line with ups and downs stretching for seven hours. The total length of that line, all the ups and downs, is how much slow wave sleep you got.

SmartSleep emits a subtle tone that boosts the peaks of the waves and deepens the valleys. Because it changes the intensity of the sleep waves, SmartSleep creates a wavy line in five or six hours that would have a total length equal to a wavy line stretching for seven or eight hours, Michels said.

Michels said he has used SmartSleep several times and could tell his sleep was better when he used it. About 70 percent of people who use it report feeling they slept better without sleeping more, Michels said.

Philips has teamed with top sleep researchers at the University of Wisconsin and elsewhere to clinically study SmartSleep's effectiveness.

Michels expects SleepSmart to go on sale in the spring.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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