Sleeping is a natural bodily process that is required for proper daily function. In an online article from the Center for Disease Control, “insufficient sleep” was referred to as “a public health epidemic”, signifying it as prevalent and current issue. Obtaining the optimal amount of sleep every night has obvious benefits. Quality sleep repairs the body with the overnight production of vital protein molecules, decreases stress levels, improves memory, and reduces risk of various illnesses. On the flip side, constant sleep deprivation can produce severe health consequences like diabetes from “disrupted insulin production”, weakened immune system by “altered white blood cell production”, obesity from “decreased production of leptin, the chemical that makes you feel full”, and potential problems in long-term memory -as described in a Princeton article on Sleep Hygiene. Even without long-term insufficient rest, sleepless individuals become irritable and fatigued. In addition to these internal health consequences of not-enough sleep, the external effects can be disastrous as well. Inability to stay awake may endanger an employee falling asleep while operating heavy machinery or a driver who closes his or her eyes on the road.
Thus at the scale of the body, many devices have already been envisioned and manufactured to deal with this issue. In Alice Truong’s article on the “9 high-tech devices that will give you a better night’s sleep”, she spells out some of the most popular sleep devices in use. Some reoccurring themes in this design arena is a bracelet or smartphone application that monitors your sleep cycle and silently shakes your wrist to wake you up at the end of your last cycle, when it is easiest to arise. One example in particular is the Fitbit Flex.
This product in the form of a wristband selling on today’s market at about a hundred dollars records sleep and wakeful activity (as both a slumber device and active pedometer). The Flex then chart’s your “real-time progress” to “make fitness fun”. It also includes the ever-necessary silent alarm, to keep your buzzer from disturbing your partner. The Fitbit Flex as well as other popular sleep devices inspired me to design the SleepWell smartphone application.
As a solution to the self-destructive web of sleep deprivation, the SleepWell program targets the key offender in the system -the individual. First sleep must be made a priority and recognized as an essential ingredient to daily health. Only then can efficient time management skills be applied to ensure enough shut-eye per night. This solution to improve (or maintain) health at a small scale works in three parts: accountability, responsibility, and progress. Firstly, SleepWell tracks and analyzes individual sleeping patterns to calculate progress. It operates an alarm that gently wakes the user up at an optimal time between sleep cycles, and it also generates an adaptable profile character that accumulates recorded sleep hours as health and game currency. However, as an added perk, oversleeping (sleeping too much) will have negative and subtractive consequences in terms of sleep recording because of it’s studied detrimental effects on one’s health (debated to be as unhealthy as not resting enough). By keeping track of sleep as a commodity, users of the SleepWell program are motivated to sleep well. Secondly, in terms of responsibility, a full night’s slumber (6.5-8 hours) recharges the user’s smartphone. This promotes users’ responsibility to their health through the necessity of their phone. Lastly, accountability is developed through the form of community. Users can add friends and compete in challenges and minigames (involving the previously mentioned health and monetary statuses derived from sleep). Through all these program applications, the individual progressively makes sleep a priority, manages time to achieve a regular nightly quality sleep, and maintains this routine to continue their status.
As for insufficient sleep derived from external sources (like disturbed environment in sudden noise or obtrusive sleep disorders), there will be a team of highly trained and knowledgeable advisors a phone call or text away 24/7 connected to the user by SleepWell with information and practical solutions.
In conclusion the sleep system, which starts with the individual ends with the individual. To improve people’s productivity, health, and longevity, SleepWell provides them motivation and purpose to make healthy decisions in a fun and sustainable way. No longer a dream, ideal sleep and refreshing mornings can become a daily reality.
References and Links:
“Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Epidemic” Center for Disease Control
Truong, Alice “9 high-tech devices that will give you a better night’s sleep”
“Sleep Hygiene” Princeton University Health Services
Hegarty, Stephanie. “The myth of the eight-hour sleep”
“Benefits of Sleep”
“Make Fitness a Lifestyle With Flex” Fitbit