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Rocking beds and pillows that nudge when you snore: Tech wants into your bed | TribLIVE.com
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Rocking beds and pillows that nudge when you snore: Tech wants into your bed

Geoffrey A. Fowler
| Saturday, January 19, 2019 5:23 p.m
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Jhaan Elker | Washington Post
Geoffrey A. Fowler tries on the Beddr SleepTuner, which sticks the forehead to measure sleep.
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Geoffrey A. Fowler tries snuggling with Somnox on the floor of the CES trade show. (Yes, he brought pajamas.)

I’ve tried a mattress with water cooling and another that sways like a boat. I’ve worn brainwave-measuring helmets and rested on pillows that nudge you when you snore.

In the hunt for better sleep, I’ve even snuggled up with a robot.

For the gadget industry, sleep is the new exercise — solvable with data. What Fitbits and Apple Watches did for getting moving, consumer tech now wants to do for getting Z’s. A third of us suffer from sleep problems, a symptom of unhealthy diets, stress and too much time staring at screens.

So does any of it work?

This year at CES, the tech industry confab, I met makers of more than a dozen sleep gadgets that promise to make you feel, perform and look better.

And at home, I’ve been testing the Tesla of snooze, a $5,000 Sleep Number 360 P6 smart mattress and frame. It monitors sleep and makes micro-adjustments to the mattress all night — an automated Princess and the Pea.

Fitbits alone didn’t make Americans skinny, and these gadgets alone won’t make us well-rested. But when I asked four sleep doctors about the rise of sleep tech, their view was cautious optimism.

“I am fairly excited these are creating a more educated populace and patients that are more engaged,” says Dr. Rohit Budhiraja, sleep clinic director at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Fitness watches have for years claimed sleep-tracking functions, but the tech is improving beyond what you can measure on a wrist.

Few consumer sleep gadgets have been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration or are backed by rigorous validation, but some are built on insights from real sleep science.

“A lot of devices that are coming out may provide some benefit,” says Dr. Rachel Salas, a professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins.

Some try to fix the bedroom by making it a more comfortable place.

Others try to fix the sleeper through data that teaches better habits.

Much of it is promising to some degree — the question is what’s worth it. Dr. Seema Khosla, who runs the tech committee of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, tries sleep gadgets herself and understands the appeal of data. But she doesn’t like how some use proprietary algorithms doctors can’t access or understand. “We embrace technology and think it is great, but we are asking that it be validated,” she says.

Just knowing you spent $5,000 on a bed also might keep some up.

The doctors I spoke with recommend not buying anything until you’ve taken their free advice: Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. We sleep better in cooler rooms and ones with as little light as possible.

And the biggest sleep distraction may be your smartphone, so leave it just in earshot outside the bedroom.

Where might sleep tech help you? Here are four areas where the tech is making strides — and some advice from the doctors on where to be cautious


Geoffrey A. Fowler is a writer
for The Washington Post


Categories: Business | Technology
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