Although many understand the need to improve sleep quality and sleep duration, a user-friendly method to help tackle this task remains elusive.
New research suggests technology may provide an answer as a new measuring system allows quantitative measuring of sleep characters.
Difficulty falling asleep, frequent waking, poor quality of sleep, and a variety of sleep-related breathing problems are very common, afflicting about one-third of the population.
In the new system, a sensor is placed under the bedsheets, measuring heart rate, breathing, sleep quality, and sleep length. The sleep data is then presented to the user in a mobile app or online.
“Discovering an easy way to track sleep could help improve sleep quality. The current measuring methods are uncomfortable and designed mainly for medical diagnoses, so they are unsuitable for measuring sleep independently at home,” said Joonas Paalasmaa, a computer science expert and researcher at the University of Helsinki.
The new method involves placing a flexible film sensor under the bedsheets to measure the sleeper’s movement, heart rate, and breathing.
The sensor can obtain a great deal of sleep-related information from the measurements, such as the amount of sleep, snoring, and resting heart rate at night. This information is displayed to the user through an online service or mobile device.
The benefit of the measuring system is that the heart rate and breathing data can be measured even though the sensor is not in direct contact with the sleeper’s body.
The new signal processing methods can detect heart rate and breathing from the signals, as different forms of interference are accounted for in the algorithm.
The sleep measuring system sends its measured data wirelessly to a mobile device which then displays the information to the user. A mobile app then provides instructions for improving sleep, based on the measurements and the user’s profile.