Artificial intelligence (AI) seems to know no boundaries. Innovation in this area has been exciting, and developments over the next five years will be nothing short of astonishing. Even while you’re sleeping, it’s possible to have new AI technologies hard at work to ensure you get a good night of quality, uninterrupted sleep. Sounds pretty great, right?
The abysmal state of sleep in the U.S.
As Americans, we’re getting a failing grade when it comes to sleep. Just consider the following statistics gathered by the American Sleep Association (ASA):
- 50-70 million American adults have a sleep disorder.
- Insomnia is a major issue, with 30 percent of adults reporting short-term problems and 10 percent self-reporting chronic insomnia.
- 48 percent of people snore on a regular basis.
- 37.9 percent of people unintentionally fall asleep at least once during the day.
- 4.7 percent of people report dozing off while driving at least once per month, while drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries per year.
- Between 9 and 21 percent of women have obstructive sleep apnea, while 24 to 31 percent of men suffer from this dangerous condition.
This is just a small sample of data. When you zoom out and look at the overall quality of sleep in this country, it’s clear that something isn’t right. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep to remain healthy. School-aged children need as much as 11 hours per night.
Clearly, most people aren’t getting enough uninterrupted sleep every night — whether by choice or due to a medical condition. And considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls insufficient sleep a “public health problem,” something has to be done sooner rather than later.
Three AI sleep technologies to keep an eye on
Researchers and medical professionals have spent decades studying sleep behaviors and looking for ways to improve the quality of sleep for Americans. There have been some interesting and helpful developments over the years, but we’re still in a state of emergency.
Interestingly, we’re at a point where technology — something that has long been viewed as a deterrent to healthy sleep patterns — is converging with sleep to allow for healthier rest. Specifically, AI is being leveraged to address serious pain points in the field.
To get a better understanding of the role AI is playing, let’s check out some of the technologies currently being developed and used.
The ReST Bed
One very interesting technology to keep an eye on is the ReST Bed, which is a fully customizable mattress that uses sensors to automatically detect and respond to pressure. If you’re interested in learning about the bed, Joe Auer of Mattress Clarity has a pretty in-depth review of some of the features and what it’s like to actually spend a few nights on the ReST Bed.
Essentially, the ReST Bed allows you to set firmness levels for each of the five zones for back and side sleeping. Then, as you switch positions throughout the night, the bed automatically adjusts to the set firmness by detecting body pressure. It seems like an ideal solution for those who toss and turn at night.
As any new parent knows, one of the scariest and most frustrating challenges is sleep — both for you and your child. You find yourself waking up at all hours of the night to check and make sure your baby is still breathing. And while you eventually convince yourself everything is probably fine, it’s nice to have added peace of mind.
The Nanit camera is a revolutionary nursery camera that is placed above the crib and streams live HD video of your sleeping baby. But what makes this technology unique is that it tracks sleep insights and analytics, providing parents with sleep behavior monitoring. As a result, both baby and parents get better sleep.
Sleep Number 360
The Sleep Number 360 is another cool bed technology that uses AI and machine learning to provide a better night of sleep. The bed, which works independently of an app, learns your behaviors and responds accordingly.
For example, the bed knows when you get in and can turn on a foot warmer at the end of the bed when temperatures are cooler. And because the bed learns your behaviors, like what time you go to bed on Wednesday nights, it can even turn on before you get in bed. The bed can also raise your head slightly when you start snoring, which gives both you and your partner better sleep.
AI: The answer to America’s sleep problems?
The future of sleep is exciting. What can we expect from AI sleep technology over the next 10, 20, and 50 years? If you ask experts in the field, they’ll tell you anything’s possible.
“Ultimately, the new sleep will come down to ‘personalized optimization’, meaning it will be customized to an individual’s specific biology and brain functioning and be utilized for more than just rest,” Van Winkle’s Michael Bullerdick predicts. “Perhaps sleep will be used to heal emotional and physical wounds, to earn a diploma, or even to learn a new language. Or maybe we’ll become accustomed to taking ‘braincations’, ones where our dreams go beyond the wildest expectations of virtual reality enthusiasts.”
That’s all very much in the future. But if there’s one thing we know right now, it’s this: America has a sleep problem. Millions of people are meandering through the day groggy and oblivious to what’s going on around them, simply because they don’t get enough quality rest at night. While some sleep deprivation is self-inflicted, a lack of rest is often directly correlated to health issues.
Whether your sleep problems are a result of your own lack of discipline or a serious condition that leaves you counting sheep every night, the good news is that AI technology is here to provide relief. From predictive sensors and machine learning to cameras that measure sleep behavior patterns, a remedy for your sleep woes may be a purchase away.
Larry Alton is a contributing writer at VentureBeat covering artificial intelligence.