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Cutting-Edge Tech for Respiratory Therapists and Patients

According to information from the American Sleep Apnea Association, an estimated 22 million people in the U.S. suffer from this disease. 80 percent of these moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea cases go undiagnosed. This is troubling news, because the disease can lead to atrial fibrillation, stroke, heart failure and high blood pressure. Too many people do not know they have the disease and do not seek the help of a doctor or a respiratory therapist.

Healthcare Technology

A new health tech device may be able to nudge people toward a doctor by monitoring their sleeping patterns. The device is called Sense and was developed by James Proud, a London resident who was enticed to drop out of college.

Dollars and sense

Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist, put out a unique opportunity for people: Take $100,000 to create a company in exchange for skipping out on a college education. Proud took Thiel up on the offer, becoming a "Thiel Fellow." Now at age 22, Proud is presenting Sense to the world, the first creation of his company Hello Inc.

Sense works by monitoring the movements of a person while they sleep. Unlike the many different wearables that may already do this, Sense is not worn on the body. The ball-shaped product has a "Sleep Pill" that is clipped to a pillow and monitors the movements individuals make during the night. This data can then be transferred to an iOS or Android powered smartphone or tablet.

Sense also contains a microphone that records sounds while people are sleeping. These recordings can be played back so individuals can hear if they are snoring and when that snoring occurs. It can also capture ambient noises that may wake people during the night so they can differentiate between harmful snoring that can be caused by sleep apnea or a firetruck that may have passed too close to an open window.

Another feature that Sense offers is an LED light that lets people know when their bedroom is optimized for restful sleep. If everything is perfect the LED light shows green. When there is a problem it turns yellow or red. Examples of potential problems include:

  • Room is too hot or cold
  • Room is too bright
  • Air quality is bad

By gathering these data and alerting users Sense is trying to help people sleep much more peacefully.

Learning how you sleep

It may not seem like a huge problem, but peaceful sleep is important for daily health. How many times have you expressed to a loved one that you do not feel rested? How many times have you heard the same words coming from a coworker? Getting a good nights sleep can have a powerful impact on the energy we have each day and also our overall health. According to WebMD, a lack of sleep can contribute to the following health risks:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Impaired judgement
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Weight gain

By tracking your sleeping patterns and monitoring the conditions of your bedroom, Sense can collect enough information to help you achieve more restful sleep. This can be as simple as turning down the lights or turning off your television before bed, purchasing an air filter for your bedroom, or alerting you to snoring that may be the harbinger of more serious health issues. Sense will, over time, be able to break down your sleeping patterns and offer information based on what works best for you to achieve restful sleep. Perhaps you sleep peacefully at a certain temperature, or maybe to are more rested if you go to bed at a certain time. Sense will be able to relay this to you so that you can build proper sleep patterns to optimize when and how you go to bed.

Ongoing developments

Right now Sense is still in the Kickstarter phase, with preorders going for $99. If Sense reaches the goal of raising $100,000, it will ship later this year at a retail price of $129. This may seem like a steep cost but if it prevents health issues and changes sleep patterns for the better then it may be a small price to pay.

While there is no magic number of how many hours we need for sleep, at least according to the National Sleep Foundation, many health professionals say that an adult should get between six and eight hours a night. This begs an important question: If we are spending a third of our day on rest, shouldn't that rest be the best it can be, especially if it impacts our health in such drastic ways? Sense may be able to help people achieve more restful sleep, and that could be a very good thing!

Sources:

"Former Thiel Fellow Tackles Sleepless Nights With New Device," Forbes, Ryan Mac, July 23, 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2014/07/23/former-thiel-fellow-tackles-sleepless-nights-with-new-device/

"How Much Sleep Do We Ready Need?," National Sleep Foundation, http://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

"Sense is a glowing sphere that watches over you while you sleep," The Verge, Ellis Hamburger, July 23, 2014, http://www.theverge.com/2014/7/23/5927613/sense-sleep-tracker-is-a-glowing-sphere-that-watches-over-you-while-you-sleep

The Thiel Fellowship, http://www.thielfellowship.org/home/

"Thiel Fellow's Elegant Sleep Tracker, Sense, Crushes Kickstarter With $120K In A Few Hours," TechCrunch, Kim-Mai Cutler, July 23, 2014, http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/23/thiel-fellows-elegant-sleep-sensor-the-sense-crushes-kickstarter-with-120k-in-a-few-hours/

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