How AI Can Improve Your Health While You Sleep | Bench Talk
 
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How AI Can Improve Your Health While You Sleep Adam Kimmel

(Source: Archi_Viz /Shutterstock.com)

Most people are willing to invest significant resources to improve our work and home lives. This approach makes sense: These activities consume around two-thirds of a 24-hour day. However, we tend to think less about the remaining eight hours. Most people understand the importance of sleep, at least intellectually. We know that getting a good night's rest improves our overall health. If we do not get one, we are tired and, as a consequence, less productive at work and less present to our families when we’re home. And yet, we rarely do what we need to do to get that good night’s rest.

The notion of fatigue, though, has a more quantifiable impact. The rise of work-from-home has blurred the line between home and work, causing people to extend their active work hours without realizing it. As a result, the extended work time increases fatigue, which costs employers nearly US$2,000 per employee each year. The economic impact of this trend accounts for US$136.4 billion of completely wasted expenses.

Scientists (and many consumers) know how to improve sleep using traditional methods of enhancing sleep, such as increasing the thread count of sheets, customizing the pillow contour, and adjusting mattress firmness and position. Now, with the rise of IoT, the next phase in sleep enhancement is here. AI and connected technology are reinventing the sleeping experience, sensing the user's behavior and applying an appropriate response from lighting, voice commands, temperature control, and other integrated passive controls.

Studying why it is beneficial to pursue further enhanced sleep helps determine the best way for intelligent technology to help.

Health Benefits of Optimized Sleep

Beyond a simple recharge for the body, optimizing the sleeping experience can boost the body's immune system. A well-functioning immune system is the foundation for additional health improvements, such as improving the effectiveness of vaccines. In addition, more high-quality sleep reduces anxiety and improves heart health. These factors erode the long-term performance of the heart and body, creating a baseload of unneeded stress that impacts intended activity and increases fatigue. The body uses sleep to reduce this stress by maintaining blood pressure and reducing the release of cortisol. Cortisol, the chemical the body releases during stress, forces the heart to work harder.

Another benefit of improved sleep is the prevention of weight gain coupled with increased energy. In addition, sleep reduces food cravings caused by an increase in ghrelin, a chemical the sleep-deprived body releases that triggers appetite. This phenomenon is the reason "night cravings" are such a common occurrence. Worse, the World Health Organization now considers chronic sleep deprivation a carcinogen due to its correlation with higher cancer risk.

At a minimum, sleep improves productivity, mood, and the overall quality of life. Excessively angry or tired people experience cognitive changes that increase the risk of car crashes sharply. The medical community has compared this impairment with drunk driving.

Smart Bedrooms Shift Technology from a Negative to a Positive

The first historical paradigm to break is the notion that technology in the bedroom is entirely negative. Blue light and active screen time just before sleep hinder deep sleep, and users should remove this from their sleep pattern. The shift comes from introducing discreet, passive systems through Bluetooth® and cloud-based data to enhance the body's natural pursuit of a good night's rest.

AI learns the user's sleep patterns and, through deep learning, continuously improves enhanced sleep quality as it collects more data. An example of the potential sleep improvement possible through AI is by implementing circadian lighting. The body follows the solar cycles for being awake (day) and asleep (night). With AI-driven lighting to tie the sleep cycle to a simulated solar cycle, sleep quality improves significantly with no technology disruption to the user.

Takeaway

The case for the smart bedroom is clear. Improving sleep quality, ideally consuming a third of our day, provides health benefits ranging from higher productivity to better immune systems, increased heart health, and overall happiness. The most transformative solutions disrupt the user's consciousness the least while having the highest possible benefit. Smart bedrooms will become the standard for connected homes, not the exception.

It is essential to develop and produce cost-effective technology to reach the ideal end-state. AI works through intelligent data processing. Thus, creating advanced sensors and processors is the current limiting step. These components collect and analyze the information from the user to determine the initial state from which to improve. Once engineers deliver commercially available technology, the smart bedroom will reach its light-off point.

To learn more about How AI Can Improve Your Health While You Sleep, see Mouser's companion article.



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Adam KimmelAdam Kimmel has nearly 20 years as a practicing engineer, R&D manager, and engineering content writer. He creates white papers, website copy, case studies, and blog posts in vertical markets including automotive, industrial/manufacturing, technology, and electronics. Adam has degrees in chemical and mechanical engineering and is the founder and principal at ASK Consulting Solutions, LLC, an engineering and technology content writing firm.


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