There has been a lot of vibe about wearable trackers that measure your sleep stages and cycles. And, these sleep trackers are relatively affordable for ordinary folks like us to purchase online or at a retail store. There also are some non-wearable sleep monitors for use on across the mattress in the bedroom.
The question is how reliable are these sleep trackers, particularly when compared to more sophisticated medical devices used by sleep disorder professionals conducting research or for use by patients. At sleep clinics, subjects undergo a sleep study known as a polysomnography (PSG). This is a test to diagnose sleep disorders. A PSG records your brain waves, the oxygen level in your blood, together with your heart rate and breathing. Your eye and legs movements are also recorded during this study. This data is then used by the sleep specialist to assess the quality of your sleep and diagnose any sleep disorders.
Now, compare this with what wearable and non-wearable sleep trackers can do. These trackers are equipped with accelerometers, a measuring device that records movement. This process of tracking movement is known as actigraphy. The amount of movement corresponds with how long you are awake and asleep. A shortcoming with actigraphy is that the accelerometer can mistake being awake and motionless with sleeping. Thus, the estimation of actual sleep could be inaccurate.
Anyone who has participated in a sleep study will know that PSG is expensive, inconvenient, and invasive having to be wired up and trying to sleep in a clinic or laboratory setting during a limited number of days. On the other hand, an actigraphy is relatively low cost, can be used at home over the long term in a natural sleeping environment. But the question is whether actigraphy that captures body movements over time is as reliable and valid to measure the quality of sleep as PSG, which has long been considered the “gold standard.” The good news is that published reports have found that actigraphy measuring sleep cycles and scoring the quality of sleep are relatively consistent with PSG scores in sleep studies where insomnia is not accompanied by disturbed sleep or psychiatric disease. Hence, the sleep trackers available for purchase by consumers do have the potential to accurately measure sleep.
At Sammi Sleeping Systems LLC, we are in the sleep technology business and have developed a therapeutic pillow to support the neck and cervical spine and allow air circulation around the head. It is filled with buckwheat hulls, a filling that has been used for sleeping pillows by Chinese, Japanese and other Asian people for centuries. We married this filling with an innovative pillow system and aromatherapy to ease anxiety, stress, tension and insomnia. The end result is that our therapeutic pillows should be able to promote good sleep and more of it.
We would love to partner with companies like Fitbit, which makes wearable sleep activity trackers for the wrist or companies that make non-wearable bedroom sleep monitoring devices such as S+ by Resmed, Beddit Smart Sleep Monitor, or Withings Aura Smart Sleep System, to compare our Sammi Therapeutic Pillow with other makes of sleeping pillows to see if ours compares favourably to theirs.