There are few things that technology can’t enhance these days, ranging from transforming the way we cook to raising the bar with entertainment. It’s hard to imagine any corner of life that can’t be made a little better with tech, but there are certain things that do seem difficult to enrich.
Basic acts like walking, listening to music and tracking our health are all aided by tech now. Well, how about sleep? You’re not even conscious during it, so surely there isn’t, say, an entire industry dedicated to improving sleep with technology? There is. We’re not talking about being able to buy an android that dreams of electric sheep, but gadgets and specialised equipment for aiding sleep.
Sleep Tech is Set to Boom
Forecasted to be an $80 billion industry by the year 2020, sleep technology involves the likes of sleep aids, solutions to insomnia and smarter means to wake up. This isn’t to imply that the entire industry revolves around comfortable pillows and louder alarm clocks, as there are now technological marvels such as ‘sound blankets’ that essentially remove exterior noise from a room and beds that adapt in real time to become more comfortable.
Of course, as is the case with any budding industry, there are stark opinions on how viable sleep tech is. Some are excited by the possibilities and applications of the myriad forms of tech, whereas others are more dubious of the applications. There are subtle concerns along the lines of data protection, as well as general practicality.
Michael Breus, a psychologist who specialises in sleep disorders, noted that a lot of sleep tech passively collects data. Whether it’s an app that records how much you snore or talk in your sleep or it’s an alarm clock that responds to how many times you hit snooze, there are few real world applications for this information.
In his own words Breus said:
“There’s an inherent problem because the consumer world has come up with all these ways to monitor your body signals, but the clinical world hasn’t come up with a way to answer all the questions this brings about” which is essentially the psychological way of saying ‘water, water everywhere; but not a drop to drink”.
There might be a wealth of data being produced but, as it stands, there’s little you can do with this information.
Does Sleep Tech Create a Placebo Effect?
Then there are those that advocate the mentality that sleep tech is exciting and a promising new industry. David Cloud, the CEO of the National Sleep Foundation.
The results of a national survey done by the NSF have shown inclinations of the placebo effect more than anything concrete though, with 60% of sleep tech owners stating that they’re simply more aware of their sleep patterns and 51% saying that they sleep better knowing that ‘technology is helping them’.
Regardless of how sleep tech works, Cloud thinks that regardless of results it’s important for people to be more aware of their own sleeping habits and patterns.
At the end of the day it seems like the sleep tech industry is still essentially in its infancy. Although they’re not re-inventing the bed, these innovative apps, items and technological solutions that ease your circadian rhythm in and out of the morning and the night could be onto something.
What are your thoughts on the sleep tech industry? Do you have any essentials for getting to sleep, whether it’s high or low tech? Let us know via Facebook, tag us on Instagram or give us a tweet on Twitter.