Has the Future of Sleep Arrived?

We all know how important good sleep is to our health. It’s so important, in fact, that we’re seeing more and more new technology developed specifically to help us sleep better, from temperature regulating mattress toppers to white noise machines.

We’re not sure how much of it really works, but here at Mattressman we’re all for innovative ways to improve our sleep. Here’s a new gadget that has got us excited this week: the Aura sleep monitor from Withings, a manufacturer of personal health devices.

First unveiled at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas earlier in January, the Aura aims to improve sleep by monitoring the user’s sleep pattern and waking them up at the optimum moment in their sleep cycle.

The Aura has three different components. An unobtrusive sensor lies under your mattress and detects even movement as small as your heartbeat and breathing rhythm. A second device that contains an LED lamp, an alarm, and records data such as noise and light levels and temperature is placed by your bed. Finally, all the data collected is transmitted to an iPhone app.

So, how does this all work to improve your sleep? Well, based on how much you’re moving around, your heart rate and how deeply and quickly you’re breathing, the sensor beneath the mattress can detect what stage of sleep you’re in. The device by your bed changes colour according to the results of studies that suggest hormone levels may be affected by different light wavelengths. Blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. By changing the light from blue to yellow to red, the aim is to reverse the process and encourage a feeling of sleepiness. When it’s time to wake up, the light turns back to blue again, as well as playing an alarm sound.

Using the sensor beneath your mattress, the system wakes you at the best point in your sleep cycle within a period that you’ve specified. You can then take a look at all the data the system has gathered about your night’s sleep, including your own sleep cycle and external data collected by the bedside device, such as noise levels, light levels and the temperature. An iPhone app means you can look at the ways your sleep may have been affected in one place.

We’ll have to wait and see how well the Aura improves people’s sleep, but its creators say users can achieve notably better sleep within weeks or even just days of use. It’s not cheap ($300 in the US with a UK price yet to be set) but the buzz it created at CES this year is very exciting, and it may well be a huge step forward in sleep technology!

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