Did you know that the average smartphone far more powerful than the computing power in the onboard computers of the original B1 Bomber?
If you watched Apollo 13, did you notice that they did their calculations with a slide-ruler?
Yes, we sent men to the moon without computers, using slide-rule math. Now, we carry enough technology in our hip pocket for each person to change the world.
This, believe it or not, has a lot to do with the way we sleep! Right now, you are holding in your hand a device that can track your sleep habits and document the causes of restlessness and sleeplessness. Here are some of the ways sleep may change over the next decade.
Changing Sleep Patterns
The “duty” of sleeping 8 hours a night is actually relatively new. Before the industrial revolution, people often slept twice a day. It was called first sleep and second sleep. People would sleep for a few hours, wake up for an hour or two, and go back to sleep. Once street lights became widely used, this practice began to die out. The advent of electricity further cut into the sleeping hours. Perhaps people came to view the hours between first and second sleep as a waste of time.
The biggest changes to our sleep patterns may actually come about as work hours change. Just as a combination of lighting and industry slowly encroached on our sleep hours, the trend toward remote work may allow for more personalized sleep patterns. If we do not have to clock in at a certain hour, we may find that natural, ancient sleep patterns surface. This may actually help those of us who can only seem to sleep 2 or 3 hours a night. So, the future of sleep may actually be – our past.
Sleep Pattern Analysis
Massive computing power has become personalized to the point where we can use it for personal interests. In fact, we now use it to analyze our own sleep patterns. The philosophy behind sleep pattern analysis is that if you can figure out why you are not sleeping, you can fix it. With that in mind there are many different gadgets that will track periods of restlessness or outright wakefulness.
If you find that your sleep is disturbed at a certain time during the night, you may find an environmental cause of your sleeplessness. Gadgets in use right now are either non-wearable or wearable.
Some of the sleep gadgets that are already out there:
- Sleep sensors – these tracks your heart rate, respiration, snoring, and movement. Most of them are Bluetooth compatible and sends the data to your phone.
- Sleep trackers – tracks your REM, light sleep, deep sleep, heart rate, breathing rate, and activity.
- Sense – a decorative addition to your bedside table, the Sense emits sounds or music to help you go to sleep. It also has an alarm that can be set with your voice. It details your sleep cycle and environmental events that may disturb your sleep.
The two areas where we are likely to see the biggest changes are light and sound. The science of using sounds as a sleep aid has seen some amazing breakthroughs over the past decade. We already know about the noise-cancelling headphones and ear buds, but the science of noise cancellation in moving in giant leaps.
It’s very likely that a noise-cancelling gadget will be in every nightstand drawer within a decade or so…the ones that we have access to now are too expensive to break through into the mainstream. But as the technology progresses, the prices will drop and we’ll be able to enjoy a noiseless might with an affordable sleep ear bud.
Sleep analysis – choosing your mattress scientifically
Last but not least, with current sleep pattern analysis available, in 10 years we will probably be able to submit our sleep analysis online and be matched up with the perfect mattress before we ever place an order.
Mechanics of Sleep
We don’t tend to think of sleep as being “mechanical,” but you’ll find that there are many different kinds of mattresses that help people sleep better. Mechanical mattresses are those that are adjustable in any number of ways.
For years, hospital-type beds have been available to the general public. This enables the sleeper to raise the head, knees, or feet of the bed for a more comfortable repose. Some models not only allow you to elevate part of the bed, but to adjust the firmness level during the night as well.
These high-tech beds will record your sleep patterns, including heart rate, respiration, restlessness periods, and deep sleep. You can program them to automatically adjust at certain times of the night, once you know your own sleep patterns.
In 10 years, we may very well have fully interactive beds that will know how to lull us back to sleep during restless periods. The melding of technology and superior materials should help us to rest and recuperate better.
The times they are a-changing
Whichever way you look at it, it seems that some of the new mind-boggling technology we have today is under-utilized.
We chase Pokémon virtual creatures in the real world, play games in 3 or 4D, yet somehow, we still struggle to make full use of the revolution…use it to address real problems, like sleep and insomnia.
Luckily, the horizons are broadening and more of the amazing discoveries we make are brought in to solve some of the problems that have been bugging the human being since the dawn of time.
What we described above are just ideas based on the trends of sleep technology. We can’t know what sleep will look like in 50 years.
Who knows? We might find a way to get rid of this basic need as we learn more about the very nature of it.
For now, we are excited about each upcoming year and how it will shape our lives. You should be, too. We live in exciting times.
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