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Blog Feature

By: Kevin Asp on August 31st, 2017

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Personal Sleep Devices - Advice from a Registered Sleep Technologist

Sleep Technology Trends

Have your patients been having difficulties sleeping recently? If so, a personal sleep device could work for them. Because we lead consistently stressful modern lives nowadays, our minds and bodies are rarely at rest. We live in a world of work, dramas, deadlines, family and personal commitments. Add this to the fact that we are contactable 24/7 via SMS and email, and it’s no wonder people have trouble with their sleeping patterns and sleep quality.

Sleep plays a vital part in maintaining well-being and health. When your patients are well-rested, they feel better physically and mentally. As a sleep technologist, you know the importance of sleep for our bodies to maintain their health and healthy brain function. The way you feel throughout the day is dependent on how well you sleep at night. Your patients will be unable to function at their best when they’re suffering from sleep deficiency.

In this post, we look at personal sleep devices, why your patients should use one, we find out more about the various different sleep tracking devices available on the market and more.


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What are personal sleep devices?

First things first, what are personal sleep devices? Put simply, these are devices that track a person’s sleep.

Why should your patients use one?

Personal sleep trackers provide your patients with a broad idea of how they’re sleeping, rather than being as exact as a professional sleep study. Personal sleep devices are a good motivation for your patients to be more aware of their sleeping patterns and habits. The patient can then compare one night to another in order to build up a bigger and more well-rounded picture of their sleep.

What should they not be used for?

You shouldn’t use personal sleep devices to try and replicate a full sleep study or to replace those results. Sleep trackers are never 100 percent accurate all of the time, although they’re extremely useful to create a picture of how a person is sleeping. The technology behind these is improving rapidly. But, it still has its limitations.

Personal Sleep Tracking Devices

The following devices could be useful to your patients:

Wearables

Wearable sleep trackers primarily work via actigraphy. Actigraphy measures your gross motor activity, but may mistake wake for sleep if your patient isn't moving for a while but is awake. You also need to take other measurements like built-in algorithms and heart rate monitors into account.

Wearable trackers tend to have a number of functions. Many combine sleep and activity tracking as well as other fun features. Some current examples of wearable personal sleep devices are:

  • Fitbit Blaze. The Fitbit Blaze combines advanced sleep and activity tracking in a modern smart watch. The Blaze works with an easy-to-use mobile app and boasts a wide 1.66 inch color touchscreen, automatic sleep tracking that tells the user their total sleep time along with any times they’ve been awake or restless and for how long, a breathing app that helps with relaxation and more. Patients can take calls, texts and so on via the Blaze. It has a vast range of fitness features and a continuous and accurate heart monitor.
  • Fitbit Charge 2. The Charge 2 is an excellent all-rounder. It boasts an elegant, large touchscreen, relaxation function that teaches mindful breathing and various strap options. Unlike the Fitbit Blaze, it doesn’t provide information on different sleep stages. It is, however, reasonably accurate and boasts a constant, accurate heart rate monitor. Patients can also synch it with a mobile phone.
  • Jawbone UP3. The people behind the Jawbone UP3 claim it’s one of the most highly advanced personal sleep devices available today. It creates a full picture of how a person sleeps. The technology uses different advanced sensors, tracks galvanic skin response, heart rate, body temperature and breathing rate. The Jawbone UP3 is inexpensive and comes with a user-friendly app that provides the user with highly detailed results.
  • Nokia Steel HR. The Nokia Steel HR is a perfect choice if your patients are looking for a wearable sleep device that looks more like a traditional wristwatch. The automatic device accurately tracks both sleep and wake times. It’s more basic than the aforementioned models. But, it’s a good choice if all your patient needs to do is track their sleep and tell the time.

Non-Wearables

Non-wearables, as the name suggests, are sleep trackers that aren’t worn on the wrist. These don’t track any data whatsoever during the day. Instead, they provide more detailed sleep data. Much the same as wearable trackers, non-wearables can sometimes think a person is asleep when they’re just sitting or lying still. There’s also the movements of sleeping partners to take into account. They are reliable though, particularly if you sleep alone.

  • Withings Aura Smart Sleep System. The Aura Smart Sleep System has a wide variety of features. It monitors your sleep. Additionally, it includes a sound and light unit to help your patients get off to sleep and to wake them up gently in the morning. The system comprises a strap designed to sleep on to monitor movement, a bedside unit that emits sound, light and that measures environmental factors. There’s a mobile phone app that delivers results.
  • Sense with Voice Sleep System. Sense is a modern-looking, stylishly designed spherical sleep tracker. It boasts a sound machine, environmental sensors and a smart alarm. An unobtrusive disc clips to the pillow and records all night time movements. The second generation Sense is voice controlled.
  • Sleepace Reston. The Sleepace Reston is a completely dedicated sleep tracker that utilizes medical grade sensors. Your patient places the long, flat tracker belt under their sheet. Measurements collected include time asleep, awake time, mid and deep sleep, quantity of light, times out of bed or turned over in bed. The technology monitors for heart pauses, sleep apnea, breathing and heart rate.
  • S+ by ResMed Personal Sleep Solution. The S+ is the first ever personal sleep device that works with absolutely no physical contact. The equipment works via radio frequency technology, monitors your physical movement and breathing while you sleep and simply sits on the bedside table. The monitor stands out in terms of collecting information on bedroom environmental factors, daytime activities and sleep. It incorporates a nightly questionnaire about lifestyle habits and stress to help correlate daily behaviors with sleep.
  • Emfit QS. The Emfit QS is an under-mattress monitor that works well for athletic patients. It’s entirely contactless. Patients can track deep and REM sleep, heartbeat, time spent in light, breathing rate, restlessness. They can also keep tabs on total recovery, recovery efficiency and whole night heart rate variability (HRV). These measurements can help you pinpoint days you should rest, train or train harder. Looking at trends over weeks and months can prevent overtraining.
  • Beddit 3.0 Smart Sleep Monitor. The Beddit monitors snoring, heart rate and breathing. Again, this monitor works by means of a thin strip placed under your bed sheet. A smartphone app tracks sleeping information including bedroom temperature and humidity.

Sleep Apps

In addition to wearable and non-wearable personal sleep devices, there are a plethora of sleep apps your patients could try to monitor or improve the quality of their sleep. Some examples of sleep apps that individuals can use with their smartphones include:

  • Sleep Cycle
  • Pzizz
  • Sleep Genius
  • Relax Melodies
  • Proactive Sleep Alarm Clark
  • Motion X
  • Pillow
  • Sleep Time+
  • Sleep Better

When is it time to recommend a sleep study?

Personal sleep devices are a useful method for tracking sleeping habits. If you suspect any underlying medical condition or issue, the devices are no replacement for a sleep study. It’s good practice to recommend a sleep study if a patient is experiencing any of the following:

  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Morning headaches
  • Diabetes
  • Poor work performance
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings

You should also speak to your patient and arrange a sleep study if you suspect any of the following conditions may be present:

  • Bruxism. Bruxism involves clenching the jaw and often grinding the teeth loudly during sleep.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Loud snoring, choking feelings and breathing cessation are some major symptoms of the condition.
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) and Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Both these movement disorders cause continuous leg movements throughout the night.

More information about in-lab sleep studies

In-lab sleep studies give you a fully comprehensive evaluation of your patient’s sleeping habits. You can use this information to correctly and efficiently diagnose sleep disorders. If your patient requires medical intervention, you must recognize this and respond.

Conclusion

Data from sleep trackers is a functional tool to educate patients about their sleeping habits. If you suspect a medical problem, these are no longer enough. Sleep trackers provide a general overview of sleep. You cannot use them on their own to diagnose a sleep disorder. You should instead carry out a sleep study that provides real and targeted data.

Key Takeaways

To summarize, the key takeaways from this article are:

  • Personal sleep devices monitor your sleep and are either wearable or non-wearable.
  • Patients should use these to get a broad picture of their sleeping habits.
  • Never use sleep devices in place of a sleep study.
  • Arrange a sleep study if you suspect any underlying cause behind your patient's sleeping problems.

If you’re keen to find out more, download our free eBook "Sleep Technology Terms & Definitions" for the latest explanations of key terms that are used in the routine practice of sleep technology.

Sleep Technology Terms and Definitions