New “Smart” PJs That Monitor Sleep Quality On the Horizon

High tech “smart” pajamas capable of monitoring heartbeat, breathing, and even posture could soon be available, scientists say.  

Apparently this comfortable cotton nightwear will be equipped with five self-powered sensors that, essentially, detect and analyze your sleep quality.  These sensors, which are simply sewn into the shirt’s lining, will be able to continuously monitor your breathing patterns as well as the total amount of REM sleep the wearer gets. 

REM, of course, stands for “Rapid Eye Movement,” and it refers to the intervals of deepest sleep, during the night. These periods are characterized by dreaming and some bodily movement but, most notoriously, rapid movements of the eye.

Of the five sensors, four of them measure pressure: more specifically, body pressure against the bed.  The final sensor is sewn into a position over the chest and it sense rapid pressure changes in order to provide information regarding breathing and heart rate. All of these sensors are connected by wires, of course, which are made out of thread that is thinly coated in silver; meaning they are entirely undetectable by the wearer. 

All that in mind, University of Massachusetts associate professor Dr. Trisha Andrew comments, “Smart apparel with embedded self-powered sensors can revolutionise human behaviour monitoring by leveraging everyday clothing as the sensing substrate.”

Furthermore, the sensors all collect data with a tiny circuit board that functions—and, most importantly, looks—like an ordinary pajama button. And this button has an innovative, built-in Bluetooth transmitter that can send all of the data collected throughout the night, wirelessly, to a computer for analysis.  

Dr. Andrew goes on to say, “The key is to inconspicuously integrate sensing elements and portable power sources into garments while maintaining the weight, feel, comfort, function and ruggedness of familiar clothes and fabrics.”

Research continues to support the understanding that getting quality sleep is an important part of a healthy life.  Yes, simply resting your body is necessary for proper recovering from daily activity but getting the appropriate amount of sleep also helps to protect against stress, infection, hypertension, and even a handful of diseases (including heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease). Existing studies also show that quality sleep directly influences mental acuity and can sharpen decision-making skills. Finally—and perhaps most importantly—these same studies also advise that the average person is not getting enough quality sleep. 

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