An Update on Wearables With Sleep Monitoring
Whether worn for function or fashion, wearables aren’t going away anytime soon. If anything, companies are investing in the long-term use of wearable technology and enhancing the user experience.
With each new year, companies have gone from considering sleep tracking technologyin their devices to now including, and marketing, sleep apnea detection and analytics in their devices. But what does this mean for the future of sleep and what updates to wearables should you and your patients keep an eye on in the next few years?
Companies are starting to take sleep disorders seriously.Advanced sleep monitoring functions and tools for detecting sleep disorders are becoming must-have features for wearables. Currently, most wearables track the basic stages of sleep throughout the night, but sleep apnea detection is becoming a new feature for the technology.
Withings is aiming to release a watch that can detect sleep apnea within the next year or two. The ScanWatch was unveiled in early 2020 and claims to be “the world’s first clinically validated hybrid smartwatch to detect both risk of arrhythmia (AFib) and sleep apnea.” (The ScanWatch is not yet available to the public and is pending FDA and CE medical certifications.)
For the technology lovers out there, the FitBit Charge 3 was released in 2018 with technology that helps “track new health indicators, like sleep apnea.” This comes after the 2017 announcement that FitBit would begin to develop tools to diagnose and monitor sleep apnea.
While companies continue to develop and release new technology for wearables and sleep, the verdict is still out on whether they work and they cannot replace the guidance of a sleep specialist.
Earbuds and Headphones
Some of the newer wearables are earbuds and headphones developed specifically for sleeping purposes.
Products like Dubslabs Bedphones and CozyPhones Sleep Headphones are headphones that can be worn to bed. Features vary per product, however, most allow the user to listen to music and block out sounds, such as street noises or bedpartner snoring, to help users fall asleep faster and battle insomnia.
Products like the Amazfit ZenBuds are still fairly new, but have more sleep tracking features. While they have noise-blocking features similar to other products on the market, these earbuds can also reportedly analyze your sleep quality including sleep stage information and reports via an app.
The Technology Behind Wearables
Recently, Firstbeat Technologies, Ltd., the analytics company for many industry giants, released a whitepaper on sleep analysis. The whitepaper covers the sleep analysis method Firstbeat developed from “a unique sleep detection and assessment methodology [that combines] various aspects of sleep from sleep stages to ANS function using HRV to measure physiological recovery during sleep, the ultimate effect of sleep.” Overall, Firstbeat’s sleep analysis, based on autonomic nervous system function and heart rate variability measurements, indicates it can be used for health and performance purposes such as tracking a person’s sleep-wake cycle and understanding the restorative effects of sleep all from a wearable.
Technology is ever evolving and wearables will only continue to become more advanced. While these wearables do not replace the tests done in sleep labs, it is still imperative that sleep technologists are aware of the many new products on the market in order to field inquiries from patients.
This is Part One of AAST’s blog series Touching the Future of Sleep Technology.
The Fundamentals of Sleep Technology, Third Edition Textbook
Learn more about the latest technology updates in the sleep field from our Fundamentals of Sleep Technology, Third Edition textbook.