Written by IEEE | August 1, 2018 | Updated: May 19, 2021
Our quality of sleep is an integral part of our everyday lives, the subject of sleep is increasingly becoming a topic we talk about. But only recently has the topic become something that’s widely studied.
Before 1952, sleep studies focused on dreams and dream interpretations. Medical professionals did not become interested in understanding sleep physiology, sleep deprivation or treating sleep disorders until the 21st century.
Today, much has changed on the subject of sleep. It is common for doctors to ask you how much sleep you are getting and when you fall asleep at night. These questions help practitioners understand how your sleep habits are impacting your health.
Sleeping with AI and Machine Learning
Researchers at MIT are working on a way to capture sleep data wirelessly to measure and analyze sleep patterns. Using an artificial intelligence (AI) -enabled device that emits radio waves, and an algorithm that analyzes those signals, researchers gain the ability to monitor a person’s sleep quality in their natural environment for a long period of time, rather than forcing them to visit a lab. You can read more about it on IEEE Spectrum here.
Plus, the applications of this data go well beyond the study of sleep disorders. It’s important to gain insights into other factors that can affect sleep quality.
“Doing this wirelessly in your own bedroom, you could really see the impact of drugs, and progression of diseases by long-term monitoring,” says Dina Katabi, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, who led the work, according to the article.
Another emerging area in the study of sleep is the application of machine learning (ML). Mattresses can incorporate machine learning to help you have a better sleep environment. The bed will adjust to your sleep patterns by using air to reposition the mattress in real time. A similar ‘smart bed’ can gather data on your movement and position while sleeping. The technology also considers environmental factors that could be at play. The data can help you understand why you’re experiencing insomnia or sleep apnea at night.
“Tests on the prototype in controlled lab conditions highlighted that the mattress can reliably detect a subject’s position and motion, heart rate and breathing activity,” reports the study. “It correctly classifies four behavioral conditions — no bed occupancy, wakefulness, non-REM sleep, and REM sleep– which are the basis for creating an objective sleep quality index.”
Other Technologies for Sleep
Machine learning and AI are not the only way we’re now studying sleep behaviors. Wearables are increasingly becoming a popular method to study sleep.
An IEEE xplore study is testing wearable sensor technologies on people with sleep apnea. The technology monitors respiratory rate by placing a sensor on the person’s abdomen or even using a temperature sensor on their nose.
Wearable and other technologies are also being used to study people who do not have chronic sleep conditions. You can read more about other innovative sleep technologies being explored here.
Do not lose hope if you have trouble sleeping or staying asleep. Sleep research is evolving with today’s newest technologies. This advancement may well lead to more products that can help you get a good night’s sleep.